Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions (116)

Pearse Doherty


116. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection if changes have been made to the rules governing single male parents' rent supplement that until recently could be paid for a two or three bedroom house, depending on the number of children the father has access to as part of custody arrangements; if community welfare officers have been instructed to only provide a single person's allowance in circumstances where the applicant is not claiming social welfare for his children, meaning that he is being deprived of his right to family life; and if so, whether she will take steps to reverse the directive. [29431/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income 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. Currently, there are approximately 85,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €403 million for 2013.

There has been no change in policy concerning the treatment of joint custody households for rent supplement purposes. Every claim for rent supplement is determined having regard to the particular circumstances of the applicant. Any person seeking a rent supplement must first satisfy the Department’s representative that they have a housing need that 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.