Dáil debates

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

3:00 am

Photo of Séamus BrennanSéamus Brennan (Dublin South, Fianna Fail)

The Make Room campaign makes a number of proposals relating to rent supplements which are provided under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. The campaign recommends that rent caps, namely the specified limits on the amount of rent that an applicant for rent supplement may incur, be reviewed to reflect the real market cost of renting. The rent limits have, in my view, a very important role in assuring that the existence of the rent supplement scheme does not artificially increase market rents. Setting rent limits higher than are justified by the market would have a distorting effect leading to a more general rise in rent levels. This in turn would worsen the affordability of rental accommodation unnecessarily, with a particular negative impact for tenants who are not in receipt of rent supplement.

The Department is reviewing the current limits at present in order to determine what limits should apply from January 2007 onwards. The review is taking account of prevailing rent levels in the private rental sector generally, together with detailed input from the Health Service Executive which administers the scheme on the market situation within each of its operational areas.

The review includes consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Private Residential Tenancies Board. In addition, a number of the voluntary agencies working in this area are being consulted including those involved in the Make Room campaign. The objective of this process is to ensure that the new rent limits reflect realistic market conditions throughout the country, and that they will continue to enable the different categories of eligible tenant households to secure and retain suitable rented accommodation to meet their respective needs.

The campaign has called for a root and branch review of the rent supplement scheme. In this regard a fundamental review of all aspects of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, including the rent supplement scheme, has recently been completed, as part of my Department's series of evaluations under the Government's expenditure review initiative. I propose to publish a report of the findings of that review shortly.


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