Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (955, 995)

Fergus O'Dowd


955. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter in relation to an assessment of income of a person (details supplied) under social housing guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23228/19]

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Jan O'Sullivan


995. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the payment received by an apprentice is fully counted as income when assessing the income qualification of a couple to qualify for social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24184/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 955 and 995 together.

Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. The 2011 Regulations do not provide local authorities with any discretion to exceed the limits that apply to their administrative areas.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, and the universal social charge.  The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature. There is no provision in the policy to deduct any other regular outgoings, such as maintenance paid in respect of family members, from gross household income for the purposes of the income threshold.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were 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. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected 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, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

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 income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway.  The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.