Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Questions (376, 389)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

376. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 355 of 15 April 2014, if she will be receiving a report from her Department regarding its engagements with Dublin local authorities on the inter-agency system to identify vulnerable families who are currently in receipt of rent supplement and at risk of becoming homeless due to the imminent loss of their tenancy; the timeline for such a report; if she will be requesting figures on the number of persons and families who have been identified under this system. [19528/14]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

389. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 8 and 10 of 16 April 2014, if she will provide a detailed description of the additional supports available to families at immediate risk of losing their tenancies and the proposed remit of the inter-agency intervention system. [19599/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 376 and 389 together.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible persons 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. There are currently approximately 78,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided in excess of €344 million in 2014. The Department’s role with regard to persons who are homeless is mainly income maintenance. Under the social welfare system, homeless people have entitlements to the full range of social welfare schemes, including supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) and associated supplements, subject to the normal qualifying conditions. Under the Exceptional Needs Payments (ENPs) assistance may be provided towards rent deposits. This form of assistance is very important to those on low incomes who are at risk of, or who are homeless, or who rely on the private rented market to meet their housing needs. In 2013, some 4,300 people were assisted with rent deposits at a cost of €2.1 million.

The Community Welfare Services, including through its work in the Homeless Persons Unit (HPU) and the Asylum Seekers & New Communities Unit, already works closely with local authorities and other stakeholders to facilitate homeless persons to access private rented accommodation. This ensures that where possible, people are diverted away from homeless services and towards community-based supports.

The Dublin local authorities are currently engaging with the Department in developing a further interagency intervention system to identify vulnerable families who are in receipt of rent supplement and at risk of becoming homeless due to the imminent loss of their tenancy to ensure that the necessary supports can be put in place. The detail of this process and the necessary reporting requirements are currently being worked out between the various organisations.

This Department is represented on the Homelessness Implementation Team, chaired by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, which will ensure greater integration between the key agencies involved in the area of homelessness as recommended by the First Report of the Homelessness Oversight Group.