Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Social Welfare Benefits
Question 48: To ask the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of mortgage interest supplement; the cost of same; if he will arrange for the collection of figures on the number of persons who apply for the mortgage interest supplement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21638/10]
Question 67: To ask the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons claiming rent supplement for more than 18 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21669/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 60 and 67 together.
The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short-term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the State.
Similarly the purpose of the mortgage interest supplement scheme is to provide short term support to people who have difficulty meeting their mortgage repayments due to changes in their employment circumstances and whose means are now inadequate to meet their basic day to day needs. The aim of the scheme, working within the overall social welfare framework, is to ensure that people do not suffer unnecessary hardship due to loss of employment and that in the short term they can maintain their sole place of residence whilst being unemployed. Mortgage interest supplement only covers the mortgage interest payments in respect of an eligible person's sole place of residence. It is a means tested payment and other qualifying criteria apply.
Information in relation to the number of recipients of rent supplement and mortgage interest supplement is shown in the attached tabular statement. Over 37,800 rent supplement recipients have been in payment for 18 months or more. There are currently over 16,500 people in receipt of mortgage interest supplement with expenditure on this scheme expected to be in the region of €64 million in 2010.
Mortgage interest supplement claim details should be electronically recorded where entitlement to mortgage interest supplement is refused. However, as the practice can vary from community welfare area to area, statistics for the number of people who applied for and were refused mortgage interest supplement without an appeal, are not available. This failure to maintain accurate records should be viewed in the context of the increased demands being placed on community welfare officers in the current economic environment.