Friday, 6 September 2019

Ceisteanna (1786, 1795, 1797, 1895)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

1786. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of rent supplement at the end of June in each of the past five years; if persons can continue to be in receipt of the payment if the landlord does not enter the housing assistance payment agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34955/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

1795. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of families on rent supplement at the end of each year from 2014 to 2018; the number of families in receipt of the scheme at the end of June 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35075/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

1797. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons on long-term rent allowance that have been requested to transfer to the housing assistance payment scheme; the reason for this decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35124/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

1895. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the expenditure on the rent supplement scheme in each of the past five years; the number of recipients in each of the years; and the projected figures for 2019. [36678/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1786, 1795, 1797 and 1895 together.

Rent supplement plays a vital role in supporting families and individuals in private rented accommodation, with the scheme supporting approximately 18,800 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

The strategic goal of returning rent supplement to its original purpose, that of a short-term income support, has been primarily facilitated by the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). The “Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness (July 2016), reiterated in the “Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021” (September 2018), is to provide 87,000 flexible housing supports through the HAP and Rental Accommodation Scheme between 2016 and 2021.

HAP has been rolled out on incremental basis since 2014 and as of 1st March 2017 is now available in all 31 Local Authorities (completing Action 2.3 of the Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness).

Through HAP, applicants, with long term housing needs assessments will be able to present to their relevant local authority for assessment for social housing, whereupon following confirmation of need, HAP support may be made available; traditionally these would have sought support through rent supplement as a first recourse.

As part of the transfer process to HAP from rent supplement, people currently in receipt of rent supplement for over 18 months are being requested to contact their local authority to have their housing needs assessed, with a view of transferring to HAP.

The target is to complete all transfers initially identified from rent supplement with long term social housing needs to HAP by 2020. This transfer programme remains in line with forecast with some 49,800 active HAP tenancies currently in place. Post 2020, the ongoing transfer to HAP from rent supplement will continue as tenancies are identified as suitable for HAP transfer.

Failure of a landlord to participate in HAP should not affect an existing customer’s entitlement to rent supplement, provided that the tenant has engaged with the local authority and/or Community Welfare Officer. I can assure the Deputies that officials in the Department continue to make every effort to ensure that persons in receipt of rent supplement are supported in the transfer to HAP.

Statistics in relation to rent supplement recipients and expenditure for the periods 2014 to 2018, along with projected figures for 2019, are provided in the attached tabular statement. The 2019 figures are predicated on current trends associated with Housing Assistance Payment Scheme (HAP) and the underpinning macroeconomic conditions prevailing throughout the year.

Information on these recipients by family composition and the number of requests made with respect to transfer to HAP are not maintained.

I trust that this clarifies the position for the Deputies.

Tabular Statement:

Rent Supplement Recipient Numbers & Expenditure 2014 to 2019

YEAR

Q2 (End June)

Q4 (End December)

COST €000

2014

75,710

71,533

338,208

2015

67,016

61,247

311,059

2016

54,181

48,041

275,294

2017

41,240

34,378

230,566

2018

28,978

24,303

179,500

2019

20,156

16,213*

132,395**

* Forecast for expected Rent Supplement recipients at the end of the year.

** 2019's Revised Estimate