Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Questions (103, 106, 107, 108, 117)

Alan Farrell

Question:

103. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will examine the rent supplement limits in Dublin Fingal for two and three bedroomed houses due to the rise of rent in Dublin, its proximity to Dublin City Council areas which are allowed an extra €100, the lack of availability of premises for families seeking two and three bedroomed accommodation and the distance of up to 28km between the north and south end of the constituency, of which only properties in the most north part of the constituency is a feasible option for accommodation under the rent levels; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10959/13]

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Brendan Smith

Question:

106. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection the total number of recipients of rent supplement in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; the discussions she has held with the National Assets Management Agency and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in relation to social housing lists and procuring suitable housing stock to tackle social housing lists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11112/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection having regard to the variation in the costs of residential renting in the private sector at different locations throughout the country particularly the greater Dublin area, if she will again examine the inadequacy of the current maximum rent support available from her Department in north Kildare where the rent ceiling set by her Department is lower than some adjoining areas where the actual rent charged is lower; if her attention has been drawn to the distress caused to applicants on local authority housing waiting lists who are unable to access accommodation in the current market climate; if she will re-examine this situation as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11338/13]

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Mick Wallace

Question:

108. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will reverse cuts to the rent supplement and changes to the maximum rent payable in view of the fact that average rents increased nationally by 2.2% in 2012 according to the latest rental report by a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11389/13]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

117. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider extending to the highly populated area of north Kildare the same provision for the highly populated portion of County Wicklow in which residents may avail of rent assistance at the Dublin rent limit level; if not, the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10958/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103, 106, 107, 108 and 117 together.

There are currently approximately 86,700 persons in receipt of rent supplement for which the Government has provided €403 million in 2013. The table shows the number of rent supplement recipients at end 2011 and 2012.

Revised rent limits are in place since January 2012 and are applicable to all new rent supplement tenancies from this date and existing tenancies on review. It is essential that State support for rents are kept under review and do not distort the market in a way that could increase rent prices for others, such as low paid workers and students. The central aim is to ensure availability of accommodation for rent supplement tenancies and not to provide access to all housing in all areas. Approximately 48,700 rent supplement claims were awarded during 2012, showing that accommodation can be secured within the new limits.

On-going analysis shows that for Dublin there are properties available within the maximum rent limits for rent supplement recipients. Over 32,500 persons in receipt of rent supplement reside in Dublin. Based on current analysis, there is accommodation available within the Fingal rent limits for both two and three bedroom properties. For the Kildare region, there are over 4,300 cases in receipt of rent supplement, with over 1,000 of these in the North Kildare area. The number of rental properties available in North Kildare is somewhat lower than the numbers available in the rest of the county and therefore impacts on the number of accommodation units available for rent supplement. Department officials dealing with rent supplement tenants will continue to ensure that their accommodation needs are met.

Traditionally, the Bray area was permitted the use of the County Dublin rent limits. It was noted during analysis for the June 2010 Rent Limit Review that Dublin limits for the Bray area had become a significant distorting influence for the local market. It was concluded that rents were out of line with the natural supply and demand points expected for the Bray area. The June 2010 Rent Limit Review broke the link between Bray and County Dublin maximum limits and accordingly it was decided that the Bray area was to be excluded with separate limits set for this area which are lower than the Dublin limits with the aim of returning the local rental market to a more natural price level.

The report referred to by the Deputy shows that rents have increased in Dublin, Cork and Galway cities with rental asking rates falling in other cities and rural areas. Officials in the Department continue to examine the impact of the rent limits on those who claim rent supplement. The next review of rent limits is being undertaken before June 2013 and any changes to the existing limits will be considered as part of this process. Discussions regarding the use of National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) properties for social housing is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government.

Number of rent supplement recipients

End 2011

96,803

End 2012

87,684

22/02/2013

86,706