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