Inflation leaves woman suffering from epilepsy in limbo over vital bedroom extension

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A Derry woman living with severe epilepsy has said her dream of a vital downstairs bedroom has been dashed by spiralling inflation.

Deirdre Fraser told the ‘Journal’ she is unable to meet a shortfall of at least £3,000-£5,000 for an extension to her Kylemore Park home which doctors have said is essential.

“It's very stressful. I suffer from severe epilepsy. My specialist in Belfast and doctors here in Derry told me that I had to move downstairs.

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"So I was going to get an extension. This was nearly two years ago but the thing is with COVID and all the issues with inflation the prices have grown considerably.

Deirdre Fraser has been left in limbo over an extension to her home due to inflation.Deirdre Fraser has been left in limbo over an extension to her home due to inflation.
Deirdre Fraser has been left in limbo over an extension to her home due to inflation.

“All the builders I've gone to, the least they will do it for is between £38,000 and £40,000, those were quotes from six months ago so it is now probably up to £40,000,” she said.

Deirdre said the Housing Executive has approved a grant in excess of £35,000 to allow the works to take place on her home which is privately owned.

She is extremely grateful for the award but has been in left in limbo due to increasing costs.

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“I'm so happy. I'm so over the moon that they have given me this amount of money but I can't do anything with it.

"It's not my fault. It's not the builders' fault either...but I can't make up the difference.

"I have a disability. I can't work. I have never been able to work. I'm 44 and I've had epilepsy since I was nine.

"I'm taking epileptic turns and blackouts all the time. I'm falling out of my bed. I would go back up the stairs if I could.

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"There is so much furniture in that room. I've banged my arms and bruised my legs,” she said.

A Housing Executive spokesperson said staff have been in regular contact with Mrs. Fraser to ensure the speedy payment of a grant towards this major adaption work.

“The timescale is dependent on a number of factors, such as occupational therapist recommendations, planning, receiving architectural drawings, builder information and building control certificates.

“Our remit is to provide grant funding for adaptations deemed necessary by the occupational therapist.

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“We are not responsible for arranging for work to be carried out to privately owned properties, nor do we carry out work to such properties.

“In this case, approvals were granted for work recommended by the occupational therapist in June 2022.

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“Our grants team has reviewed this case on two occasions and are content that the suitable schedule of rates have been applied correctly in this case.

“Formal approval has been granted to provide £35,226 to enable the adaptation in this case.

“This was reviewed in February 2023.

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“This figure corresponds to the schedule of works provided by the occupational therapist and rates are calculated using the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Building Cost Information Service and underpinned by the legislation that guides the grant scheme.

“Due to the recent challenges faced by the construction industry, an uplift of 32.6 per cent has been applied to grant aid, and we can confirm that the grant applicant has benefited from this funding uplift.

“We have been in regular contact with the applicants and have signposted them to external agencies who offer confidential assistance to support adaptations in privately owned properties.”

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