I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 20 together.
Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended. The 2011 regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard household means policy.
Under the household means policy, which applies in all local authority areas, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI, universal social charge and additional superannuation contribution. The policy provides for a range of income disregards and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once-off in nature.
The income bands are expressed in terms of a maximum net income threshold for a single-person household, with an allowance of 5% for each additional adult household member, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%, and a separate 2.5% allowance for each child.
The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs in addition to a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced in 2011 also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and providing a degree of future-proofing.
Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge. However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is currently under way within the Department.