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Written Answers - Social Welfare Code

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 261. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  if recipients of disability [440]allowance will also incur a reduction in the rent allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6507/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Rent supplement provides short-term 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. Since 2005, rent supplement expenditure has increased from €369 million to a provisional outturn of €503 million in 2011. The number of persons claiming the allowance increased from almost 60,200 persons in 2005 to over 96,800 at end 2011, a 61% increase.

Budget 2012 provided for an increase in the minimum contribution for a single person on rent supplement from €24 to €30 per week and a new rate of minimum contribution for couples of €35 per week. These measures are applicable to all rent supplement tenants, including those in receipt of disability allowance.

Rent supplement is subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant for rent supplement may incur. These rent limits are set at levels that enable the different categories of eligible tenant households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation, having regard to the different rental market conditions that prevail in various parts of the State. Household size is taken into account and the objective is to ensure that rent supplement is not paid in respect of overly expensive accommodation having regard to the size of the household. The Department may exceed these levels in certain circumstances, e.g. where the applicant may have special housing needs such as those incurred by a disability.

As the Department currently funds approximately 40% of the private rented sector it is essential that State support for rents are kept under review, reflect current market conditions and do not distort the market in a way that could increase rent prices for low paid workers and students.

New maximum rent limits came into force on 1 January 2012. These new limits are in line with the most up to date market data available. The emphasis of the rent limit review was to ensure that maximum value for money for tenants and the taxpayer was achieved whilst at the same time ensuring that people on rent supplement are not priced out of the market for private rented accommodation.

The new maximum rent limits will not change the after accommodation costs income of persons receiving rent supplement. Rather the impact of the change in the rent limits will be on the rents received and expected by landlords.

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