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Housing Assistance Payment

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 13 July 2017

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Ceisteanna (29)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

29. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his plans to address the inadequacies with the new housing assistance payment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33397/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) provides fast, flexible housing support to households in an area of their choice. Individuals with a housing need who in the past were reluctant to avail of full time work as they would lose their Rent Supplement support, can now move to HAP, avail of full-time work and retain their housing support, with an adjustment in their differential rent.

HAP is available to all eligible households in all local authority areas across the State. HAP has been rolled out on a statutory phased basis since September 2014 with 7 local authorities delivering the scheme initially, 11 more authorities added in 2015, 10 added in 2016 and the final 3 Dublin authorities providing HAP from 1 March 2017. The phased nature of the HAP roll-out has allowed for significant learning in the operation of the scheme. In this way, new HAP authorities have benefited from the experience of those authorities where the scheme has been previously operational. On average in 2017, 333 additional tenancies are being supported by HAP each week with just over 24,000 households currently having their housing needs met under the scheme and some 18,000 separate landlords and agents currently in receipt of monthly HAP payments.

As HAP is a social housing support and consequently households are not eligible to remain on the main housing waiting list, Ministerial directions have issued to ensure that, should they so choose, HAP recipients can avail of a move to other forms of social housing support through a transfer list. With the completion of the HAP roll-out and the ending of the scheme’s pilot phase, a Ministerial Direction was issued instructing local authorities to continue to offer HAP tenants access to other forms of social housing through the transfer list.

Since April, following the national rollout of the scheme, in cases where a tenant currently on a local authority waiting list wishes to access rented accommodation with HAP support in another local authority area, such requests can now be facilitated under inter-authority movement. In order to maintain the equitable treatment of all housing applicants, inter-authority movement for HAP applicants is based on the current Social Housing Eligibility Income Bands, i.e. movement will only be facilitated across local authorities with Income Bands that are equal or higher; or where shared areas of choice are already operated.

A new HAP website, www.hap.ie , was launched in Q1 2017 and provides prospective HAP tenants and landlords with the information that they need to better understand how HAP works.

I continue to keep the operation of HAP under review but I am currently satisfied with how the scheme is operating and I consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme committed to under Rebuilding Ireland.

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