Update: Rent Support & Housing Needs, 25th June 2015

25th June 2015 - Bernard Durkan TD

Question No’s:  72 & 73 Ref No’s: 25389-15, 25390-15

To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the extent to which the cost of rent support has increased over the past six months; if adequate emphasis is being placed on the need to meet the housing needs of those in private rented accommodation by way of direct purchase or build of local authority houses in lieu thereof; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan.

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the savings likely to accrue to her Department in respect of Rent Support in the event of a comprehensive annual local authority house building programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th June, 2015.

R E P L Y

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys):

It is proposed to take Questions 72 and 73 together.

The rent supplement scheme provides 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. There are approximately 68,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €298 million for 2015.

The overall cost of rent supplement per tenancy has increased nominally by approximately 1.5% over the last six months. This increase is explained for the most part by the operation of the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework and the Tenancy Sustainment Protocol operated in conjunction with Threshold in Dublin and Cork. Under these measures, rent payments are being made in excess of the rent limits to over 2,100 rent supplement households to ensure they retain their rented accommodation in view of the current difficulties in securing suitable and affordable accommodation.

The provision of housing is a key priority for Government which is being addressed through the Construction 2020 Strategy and the Social Housing Strategy 2020.  It would be expected that the cost of the rent supplement scheme would be reduced following the implementation of a comprehensive local authority house building programme as those customers with long term housing needs would have their housing needs addressed. The savings accruing to rent supplement would depend on the location of the housing and family types accommodated.  

The Department’s strategic policy direction is to return rent supplement to its original purpose of being a short term income support by transferring responsibility for persons with long term housing needs to the local authorities under the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). HAP is currently in operation in nine local authority areas in which there are approximately 2,300 HAP tenancies already in place. The financial provision for rent supplement 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 HAP. There are plans to roll out HAP to 10 further local authorities during 2015.  

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