Written answers

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Department of Social Protection

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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187. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm that where a family on one local authority housing list, for example South Dublin County Council, has been served a notice to quit from a private landlord, is unable to source alternative rent supplement accommodation in that local authority area, and is therefore at risk of homelessness, that family can apply for rent supplement accommodation in another local authority area, while remaining on the housing list in its original local authority area. [34193/15]

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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233. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the monthly expenditure on the rent allowance scheme over the past three years; and if she will provide details of where any savings have been re-assigned. [34650/15]

Photo of Kevin HumphreysKevin Humphreys (Dublin South East, Labour)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 187 and 233 together.

Rent supplement plays a vital role in housing families and individuals with the scheme supporting approximately 65,000 people at a cost of €298 million in 2015. The provision for 2015 represents a transfer of funding in excess of €20 million to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to support the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

Details of rent supplement recipients and expenditure each year since 2012 is provided in the attached tabular statement. This information is not available on a monthly basis. Rent supplement is a demand led scheme and the expenditure on the scheme has reduced each year since 2012 in line with the reduction in recipient numbers and changes to the scheme.

The two local authority sponsored schemes; the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) have contributed to the gradual decline in rent supplement numbers. The improvement in the economy and the reduction in the live register are also key factors in the reduction in numbers on the scheme.

It is a condition of rent supplement that a person must have been residing in private rented accommodation or accommodation for homeless persons or an institution (or any combination of these) for a period of 183 days within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim for rent supplement. A person may also qualify for rent supplement where an assessment of housing need has been carried out and the person is deemed by a housing authority to be eligible for and in need of social housing support.

In all other cases, a person who wishes to apply for rent supplement is referred, in the first instance, for an assessment of eligibility for social housing support by the housing authority. Only when the person has been assessed as being eligible for and in need of social housing support does the person become eligible for consideration for rent supplement. There is no entitlement to rent supplement pending the completion of this assessment.

It is the Department’s policy that an assessment of eligibility for social housing support should generally be carried out by the relevant local housing authority in the area where a claim to rent supplement is made and the person intends to reside. This ensures that the relevant local authorities are made aware of and can take responsibility for the long-term housing needs of rent supplement tenants living within their administrative area. This reflects both the responsibility of local authorities in providing long-term housing supports and the temporary income support nature of rent supplement. Without this measure rent supplement recipients would be unknown to their respective local authority, where they currently reside, with the potential that they may lose out on an offer for social housing.

In view of the reduction in supply in the private rented market the Department has put measures in place to provide for increased flexibility under the rent supplement scheme where there is a threat of homelessness or loss of a tenancy. If the Deputy has details of a particular case where a person’s ongoing entitlement to rent supplement was delayed due to a change of address across a local authority area in the Dublin area, the details should be provided to the Department for review.

It should also be noted that the conditions for rent supplement have changed following the introduction of HAP which is in place in South Dublin County Council. In local authority areas where HAP is in place, new applicants assessed as requiring social housing support will be considered for HAP rather than rent supplement.

Policy in relation to persons remaining on housing lists is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

Tabular Statement

Table 1: Rent Supplement: Recipient Numbers & Expenditure: 2012 to Present

YearRecipientsCost €000
201567,016298,415 1
1Approved Expenditure provision for 2015


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