Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (174)

Patrick Nulty


175 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection if regulations will be issued to ensure that rent supplement applicants will be issued both a deposit and a month's advance rent by their community welfare officer if the applicant’s landlord demands same and will not otherwise allow an applicant to take up the tenancy; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that unless a CWO will assist applicants in this way that many are being driven into the hands of exploitative moneylenders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35731/12]

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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.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, an exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made to help meet an essential once-off cost, such as a payment of a rent deposit, which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources.

There is no automatic entitlement to an exceptional needs payment and each application is determined by the person administering the scheme based on the particular circumstances of the case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need. Such payments are confined to occurrences which the person administering the scheme considers to be unexpected, unforeseen or exceptional.

Multiple rent deposits are not generally paid to the same person and every effort is made to ensure that only one payment is made. If the landlord or tenant terminates the tenancy, the tenant can use the returned deposit to secure a new tenancy.

Payment of rent supplement in advance may be made at the discretion of the Department's representative in exceptional circumstances based on the individual needs of the customer. This flexibility ensures that individuals with particular needs can be accommodated within the scheme. Accordingly, it is not proposed to issue further instructions to officers administering rent supplement.