I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 and 134 together.
The purpose of rent supplement 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.
The Department has completed a review of the maximum rent limits for rent supplement. The revised rent limits came into effect on 17 June 2013 and will remain in place until 31 December 2014. The emphasis of the June 2013 review was to ensure that value for money was achieved whilst, at the same time, ensuring that people on rent supplement are not priced out of the market for private rented accommodation. It is essential that State supports for rents are kept under review and reflect current market conditions.
During the rent limit review the Department used information from rental tenancies registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) to analyse actual rental costs in each county across the country. The Department also used publicly available data sources including the Central Statistics Office rental indices, the Daft.ie Rental Report and websites, advertising rental properties to ascertain both the market trends and the current asking prices for one, two and three bedroom properties. The new maximum rent limits will not change the "after accommodation costs" income of persons receiving rent supplement.
The Department is satisfied that the new rent limits provide access to accommodation for persons claiming rent supplement. While the central aim is to ensure availability, the limits do not provide rent supplement tenants with access to all housing in all areas. Officials in the Departmental will continue to monitor the impact of the revised rates and those administering the scheme will continue to ensure that the accommodation needs of rent supplement recipients are met.