Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs
his views on whether the maximum rent supplement of £19 per week payable where the applicant is in sheltered housing accommodation is too low; and if he will introduce the necessary regulations to increase same.
Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme a weekly supplement may be paid in respect of rent to any person in receipt of a social welfare or health board payment whose means are insufficient to meet their needs.
Entitlement to a rent supplement is determined by the health boards and supplements are normally calculated to ensure the person, after payment of rent, has a weekly income equal to the rate of SWA appropriate to the family circumstances, less £6. This £6 represents the minimum contribution which a person is required to pay from his or her own resources towards accommodation costs.
In addition to the minimum contribution, all applicants are required to contribute any assessable means in excess of the appropriate basic SWA rate towards their rent.
Under the terms of the capital assistance scheme, capital grants are made available by the Department of Environment and Local Government, through local authorities, to approved voluntary bodies to provide accommodation for persons accepted as qualified for local authority housing.
The CAS scheme and rent supplementation to its tenants were examined as part of the December 1995 Report of the Review Group on the Role of Supplementary Welfare Allowance in relation to Housing. It was noted in that report that in addition to the non-repayable capital grants, subsidies were being paid under section 10 of the Housing Act, 1988, and SWA rent supplement was paid to the tenants. In the circumstances, it was decided to set a limit on the amount of rent supplement payable where the tenancy is in accommodation provided under the capital assistance scheme. This was set at £21 per week for a couple and £19 in any other case.
These limits have recently been reviewed and I announced in budget 2001 that the rates would be increased by £10 per week with effect from April 2001. The new limits for tenants under the capital assistance scheme will be £31 for couples and £29 for single people.
Rent supplements in general will be examined under the review of the SWA scheme which is currently being undertaken as part of my Department's series of formal programme evaluations. A working group comprising officials from my Department and other relevant agencies has been established to carry out the review and a report is expected early next year. The level of rent supplementation to tenants of CAS schemes will be examined again by the working group as part of this review.
Question No. 320 answered with Question No. 57.