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 90,000 rent supplement recipients for whom the Government has provided €436 million for 2012.
Rent supplement is calculated to ensure that the person, after payment of rent, has an income equal to the basic supplementary welfare allowance rate, less a specified weekly minimum contribution which recipients are required to pay from their own resources. The minimum contribution is €30 per week for single people and €35 per week for couples.
An increase in the minimum contribution of €4 per week for single people and €8 per week for couples would lead to an annual saving of €23.4 million.