Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Housing Assistance Payments
248. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he is considering increasing the housing assistance payment limit in view of the increase in rents. [36934/16]
The Government increased the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) (and Rent Supplement) rent limits in every local authority area, taking account of geographic variations in market rents, with effect from 1 July 2016 meeting its stated commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government and Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. In addition, additional flexibility above the existing HAP rent limits was made available to all local authorities operating HAP from the same date. These changes have had the effect of providing further targeted supports to those households in most need; providing prospective HAP recipients with access to a greater number of properties in the market; and reducing the number of households falling into homelessness.
More than 2,500 pre-existing households being supported by HAP have received an increase in their level of support since the introduction of the new rent limits in line with costed projections. All local authorities where HAP is operational can now exceed the prescribed rent limits (by up to 20%), on a case by case basis, subject to guidelines.
HAP is now available to all qualified households in 19 local authority areas, with over 15,500 households currently being supported by the scheme and over 10,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to those households. Furthermore, HAP will be available from 1 December 2016 in the following local authorities – Cavan, Kerry, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.
I am satisfied the HAP rent limits, in combination with the discretion available to local authorities operating the scheme, is sufficient to provide housing support while meeting market demands. My Department continues to keep the operation of the scheme, including the effectiveness of rent limits, under review. In general, I am satisfied with the operation of HAP scheme and I consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme under Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.