Rent supplement plays a vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting approximately 34,400 recipients for which the Government has provided €180 million for in 2018.
The Deputy will be aware that the strategic policy direction of the Department is to return rent supplement to its original purpose of being a short-term income support with the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, available nationwide from 1 March 2017. There are currently over 32,000 active HAP tenancy arrangements of which almost 9,000 are direct transfers from rent supplement.
All new applicants with housing needs assessments must present to the local authorities for HAP rather than rent supplement. People in receipt of rent supplement for over 18 months are being requested to contact their local authority to have their housing needs assessed, thus beginning the transfer process to HAP. The target is to complete all transfers from long term rent supplement to HAP in 2020. Failure of a landlord to participate in HAP does not affect an existing recipient’s continued entitlement to rent supplement.
I can assure the Deputy that officials in my Department make every effort to ensure that persons in receipt of rent supplement are supported in the transfer to HAP. Communication with landlords in respect of the HAP scheme is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.