The Housing Assistance Payment, HAP, is a flexible form of social housing support available to households throughout the State who have a long-term housing need. To qualify for HAP a household must first be deemed eligible for social housing support. Eligibility for social housing support is based primarily on a household's income. The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each housing authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard household means policy.
The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band are based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. The limits also reflect a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn and thereby promote sustainable communities.
Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.
However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of the income eligibility limits for social housing supports, including HAP has commenced. I expect the results of this review to be available for publication later this year.