Written Answers. - Rental Assistance Scheme.

Noel Ahern

Question:

692 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the progress being made on transferring the operation of the rent allowance scheme to local authorities; when the first Government decision was made and the interdepartmental group set up to examine this matter; and the reason for the delay in decision making and implementation of decisions. [20027/00]

In April 2000, a planning group under the aegis of my Department began consideration of proposals in relation to new rental assistance arrangements and issues arising in their implementation. A report on the matter will be submitted to Government before the end of the year.

The Government decided, in principle, to establish a local authority rental assistance scheme in the light of a report of an interdepartmental committee, published in August 1999. This committee had been set up in March 1996. The local authority role in this area will involve the establishment of a new scheme rather than the transfer of the existing rent supplementation scheme which is administered by the health boards.

The Government policy statement, Action on Housing, June 2000, indicated that the planning group should specifically explore the potential of more supply-focussed approaches to rental assistance, including possible arrangements and measures needed to promote improvements in standards and supply of rent-assisted accommodation. This is being addressed by the planning group.