Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (360)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

372 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has been in a position to initiate a study of the number of cases wherein the fathers of children to whom the court have given partial custody or caring rights or obligations find it difficult to obtain rent support, thereby preventing them from compliance with orders of the courts arising from the fact that their rent support relates to the maximum available for a single person only, if she will attempt to determine how the issues can be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35374/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Social Protection)

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide 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. The overall aim is to provide short-term assistance and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently approximately 92,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement for which the Government has provided €436 million in 2012.

Every claim for rent supplement is determined having regard to the particular circumstances of the applicant. Persons seeking a rent supplement must first satisfy the Department that they have a housing need which they are unable to meet from their own resources. In addition, the Department must be satisfied that the residence is reasonably suited to the residential and other needs of the claimant. The Department must also be satisfied that the rent payable is reasonable having regard to the nature, character and location of the residence.

Where parents have joint custody of a child, the needs of both parents to have adequate accommodation are taken into account when an application for a rent supplement is being determined, including any obligations placed by the courts. In such cases, documentation is normally required showing that a joint custody arrangement is in place and being availed of before a decision can be made. The fact that one parent is in receipt of rent supplement would not, in itself, preclude the other parent from being entitled to assistance towards their rent. Statistics are not available on the outcome of decisions made in these circumstances.

Questions Nos. 373 and 374 answered with Question No. 335.