Question to the Minister of State for the Department of Social Protection (Kevin Humphreys T.D)
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide update on the review of rent supplement limits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 13th November, 2014.
The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources. There are approximately 72,500 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €344 million for 2014.
The Department is undertaking a review of the maximum rent limits.
I am concerned that the impact of increasing limits at a time of constrained supply will yield only a very marginal increase in available supply for rent supplement recipients, with the only certainty that raising limits will increase costs disproportionately for the Exchequer with little or no new housing available to new recipients. Raising rent limits may not be the solution to the problem as it is likely to add to further rental inflation and impact, not alone on rent supplement recipients, but also on many lower income workers and students. I plan to keep this matter under close review.
I can assure the Deputy that officers administering rent supplement throughout the country have considerable experience and make every effort to ensure that accommodation needs are met including through the use of their discretionary statutory powers, as necessary. A notice reminding staff of their statutory discretionary power to award a supplement for rental purposes in exceptional cases, for example, when dealing with applicants who are at risk of losing their tenancy was circulated in July 2014, including to staff operating in the Cork area.