Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (311)

Patricia Ryan


311. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to the fact that county councils are disregarding general practitioners letters relating to the health conditions of housing applicants, that they are insisting on consultants letters which are either expensive to procure or require appointments for which there are long waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8697/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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 Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe an application form for social housing support that requires that a household applying on a basis of medical grounds must provide a consultants certificate specifying the nature of the medical condition or disability, and if applicable an occupational therapist's report in respect of any specific accommodation requirements. This is to ensure that the local authority has sufficient information in order to make an accurate determination of an applicant’s housing need.

Decisions on the qualification of specific persons for social housing support and the allocation of that support are a matter solely for the local authority concerned.

Furthermore, Section 22 of the Act requires all housing authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households approved for a transfer, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households. Allocation schemes may contain provisions for exceptional or emergency cases, allowing immediate housing outside of normal waiting list priorities, should circumstances warrant it.

My Department is currently in the process of reviewing the social housing application form and the requirement to provide a consultants certificate is being examined as part of the process. I would expect to be in a position to make a decision on any proposed amendments to the application form in due course.