Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Social Protection

Rent Supplement Scheme Expenditure

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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50. To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will increase rent support to facilitate persons who are homeless; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46649/14]

Photo of Kevin HumphreysKevin Humphreys (Dublin South East, Labour)
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he purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources. 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 Exchequer. There are currently approximately 71,800 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €344 million for 2014.

The Department is finalising a review of the maximum rent limits under the rent supplement scheme. I am concerned that the impact of increasing limits at a time of constrained supply will yield only a very marginal increase in available supply for rent supplement recipients, with the only certainty that raising limits will increase costs disproportionately for the Exchequer with little or no new housing available to new recipients. Raising rent limits may not be the solution to the problem as it is likely to add to further rental inflation and impact, not alone on rent supplement recipients, but also on many lower income workers, their families and students. I plan to keep this matter under close review.

I can assure the Deputy that officers administering rent supplement throughout the country have considerable experience and make every effort to ensure that accommodation needs are met including through the use of their discretionary statutory powers on a case by case basis, as necessary. A notice reminding staff of their statutory discretionary power, including those operating in Kildare, to award a supplement for rental purposes in exceptional cases, for example, when dealing with applicants who are at risk of losing their tenancy was circulated earlier this year. The Department is currently examining the procedures in place throughout the country to ensure that the necessary supports continue to be provided.


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