Clare Recently asked the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton to review rent supplement which is currently causing grave hardship for many families:
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the low level of rent supplement being awarded, against the backdrop of rising rents, which is contributing to increased homelessness and tenants having to subsidise the rent by amounts in excess of guidelines.
– Clare Daly.
* For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 5th March, 2014.
R E P L Y
There are currently approximately 78,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Department has provided over €344 million for 2014. Recipient numbers have been in decline following a peak of over 97,000 in 2010.
Following an extensive review of the private rental market revised maximum rent limits were introduced from Monday 17 June 2013 until 31 December 2014. Despite the overall pressures on the social protection budget, there have been increases in the rent limits in Dublin, Galway, North Kildare and Bray areas.
Rent supplement is calculated to ensure that an eligible person, after the payment of rent, has a minimum income equal to the rate of supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) appropriate to their family circumstances, less a minimum weekly contribution of €30 for a single person or €40 for a couple. Where a person has an additional income above the rate of SWA they are, in certain circumstances, required to top up their rent.
The tenant, landlord or landlord’s agent must complete the rent supplement application form declaring that the information provided is accurate. The form clearly states that making a false statement or withholding information may lead to prosecution.
The Department, in June 2012, introduced powers of enquiry for staff to formally request and oblige landlords to provide information in respect of rent supplement tenants, principally to verify the agreed rent and tenancy.
Any instance of false declarations of the amount of rent payable should be reported to the relevant Department representatives who have specific legislative powers to deal with such offences. In such cases the Department’s representative will discuss the circumstances of the case with the tenant before making any decision in relation to ongoing entitlement.
Department officials dealing with rent supplement tenants continue to make every effort to ensure that their accommodation needs are met.