Rent supplements are provided through the supplementary welfare allowance scheme which is administered by the health boards on behalf of my Department.
Supplementary welfare allowance is not normally payable to people in full-time employment. However, special arrangements have been in place for a number of years which allow people on approved schemes such as community employment, CE, retain a portion of their rent supplement on a tapered basis, subject to a gross household income limit of €317.43 per week and certain other conditions.
Participants in CE schemes may opt for assessment under this tapered withdrawal system or the standard supplementary welfare allowance means test, whichever is the more favourable to them.
Under standard assessment rules, rent supplements are calculated to ensure that an eligible person, after the payment of rent, has an income equal to the rate of supplementary welfare allowance appropriate to his or her family circumstances, less a minimum contribution, currently €13, which each recipient is required to pay from his or her own resources. Up to €50 per week of additional income from part-time employment is disregarded in the means test, with the aim of ensuring that a person is better off as a result of taking up such an opportunity. CE is regarded as part-time employment for these purposes. There are also earnings disregards applied to the one-parent family payment to the person concerned.
The South Western Area Health Board was contacted regarding this case and has advised that the amount of rent supplement in payment to June 2004 was based on the person's income from his one-parent family payment only. The board reviewed his entitlement when it became aware he was participating in a CE scheme and reduced his rent supplement in respect of July and August 2004.
The board has further advised that the person concerned was unsuccessful in appealing against the decision to reduce his rent supplement.
He was also requested to provide documentation confirming his continued participation in the CE scheme. To date, he has not provided the details sought and accordingly payment of his rent supplement has been suspended. His case will be fully examined on receipt of the requested information and if he has an entitlement to rent supplement, payment will be made at the appropriate level with immediate effect.