GRANT OF TURF FOR NECESSITOUS HOUSEHOLDS.
Free Fuel Grant.—A sum of £25,000 was voted in 1933-34 to meet the cost of supplying native fuel free to necessitous households.
As in the rural areas and smaller towns, the poor have means which do not exist in the larger towns of providing themselves with fuel, and it was decided to confine free supplies to poor persons residing in the 17 towns with a population of over 7,000.
A preliminary allocation of a sum of £23,000 was made in proportion to the population of the 17 urban areas mentioned above, and each authority notified of its share of this sum, and that wherever possible, turf should be obtained from suppliers approved by the Department of Industry and Commerce. The turf was to be of standard quality (i.e., of a density of .9 and should not contain more than 30 per cent. moisture and 6 per cent. ash) and well dried, a cwt. to fit in a sack of the standard size. Where standard turf could not be obtained quotations for dense and well-dried turf containing not more than 30 per cent. moisture and 6 per cent. ash could be considered. Light turf or badly dried turf was not to be accepted.
The investigation of the needs of applicants was carried out in all the areas mentioned except Drogheda by home assistance officers, and turf was supplied only on the recommendation of those officers. The supply was to be restricted to persons eligible for home assistance and cases of proved necessity brought to the notice of the assistance officers by charitable organisations or otherwise. In no case was the supply to exceed 1 cwt. per week.
Instructions in the matter were communicated to the local authorities on the 27th November, 1933, but in very few instances was it found possible to deliver supplies to recipients until the following January. In Kilkenny and Sligo the borough councils did not bring a scheme into operation. The Kilkenny Council stated that supplies of turf of standard quality could not be procured within reasonable proximity to their area. The Sligo Council adopted a scheme, but owing to the inability of suppliers to guarantee a regular supply of turf the scheme was not put into operation. In Dublin the approved suppliers could not guarantee a supply of hand-won turf, and the local authority had eventually to arrange for the supply of Turraun peat. This delayed the operation of the scheme in Dublin until the latter part of January. The Commissioner acting for the Bray Urban Council also arranged for the supply of Turraun peat. The Borough Manager of Dun Laoghaire reported on the 21st February that contractors were unable to get supplies of turf. Likewise, Wexford Urban Council reported that there was great difficulty in getting supplies, and eventually arranged for the purchase of Turraun peat which was only procured with difficulty, deliveries to recipients being consequently irregular. Other areas from which reports as to scarcity of turf were received were Carlow, Clonmel, Drogheda, and Limerick.
The prices as reported to the Department by the following urban and borough councils were:—
In Tralee there were no approved suppliers. Turf was purchased after invitation of tenders from rural suppliers at from 18s. to 19s. 10d. per ton. It was delivered in the Council’s stores, where it was weighed and distributed to the recipients who arranged for delivery. The scheme was reported to have worked satisfactorily.
The prices for Turraun peat were:
Except in Dublin County Borough where the Board of Assistance administered the grant, the administration of the scheme was entrusted to the borough and urban councils. The cost of administration was £492 6s. 1d. or less than 4 per cent. of the expenditure.
Only three authorities (Cork, Waterford and Bray) spent up to or beyond the sum provisionally allocated. This, no doubt, was due to the difficulty of getting supplies and delay in putting the scheme into operation. The expenditure was £12,723 11s. 8d., all of which was recouped, £8,221 in 1933-34 and the balance the following year.
The following table gives the amount paid to each authority:
STATEMENT OF EXPENDITURE.