Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Social and Affordable Housing

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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1311. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the reason a family (details supplied) is deemed ineligible to be included on the housing waiting list with Galway County Council; his plans to address the anomaly by increasing the social housing eligibility income limits in Galway County Council to ensure that all families in receipt of social welfare payments are eligible to be considered for social house supports in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5555/20]

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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1349. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the income limits for eligibility for social housing per each category of household by county nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6184/20]

Photo of Eoghan MurphyEoghan Murphy (Dublin Bay South, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 1311 and 1349 together.

Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.  

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. The 2011 Regulations do not provide local authorities with any discretion to exceed the limits that apply to their administrative areas. Also under the 2011 Regulations, a household may apply for support to one housing authority only (the “housing authority of application”), which may be the authority for the area in which the household normally resides or with which it has a local connection, or where the authority agrees, at its discretion, to assess the household for support.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI, Universal Social Charge and Pension-Related Deductions within the meaning of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once-off in nature. 

A table setting out the details of the three bands and the limits currently applicable in each local authority area is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/other/social-housing-support-table-income-limits 

The income bands are expressed in terms of a maximum net income threshold for a single-person household, with an allowance of 5% for each additional adult household member, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%; and 2.5% for each child, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%. 

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced in 2011 also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing. 

Households in cities like Galway, Cork or Dublin may apply for areas of choice in the city and/or county area. Where a county area is specified, this is dependent on that household not exceeding the maximum net income threshold for the county area, which in the case of Galway County is €25,000 for a single person or €30,000 for a household of three adults and four children.  

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources. 

However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway. The review will have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

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