Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Ceisteanna (735)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

735. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of HAP tenancies in each of the years 2017, 2018 and the first three quarters of 2019 that were transfers from rent allowance supported tenancies or RAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52606/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme plays a vital role in housing eligible families and individuals.  At the end of Q3 2019, nearly 67,000 HAP tenancies had been set-up since the scheme commenced, of which there were more than 50,000 households actively in receipt of HAP support and over 29,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme. 

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. It is available in all local authority areas and its introduction ensures that all social housing supports can be accessed through the local authorities.

HAP will replace Rent Supplement (RS) for those with a long-term housing need, who qualify for social housing support. However, RS will remain available through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) to households as a short-term income support. The strategic aim is to complete the majority of transfers from long-term RS to HAP by end 2020, as outlined in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. 

HAP provides fast, flexible housing support to all eligible households in the area of their choice. Individuals, 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 and avail of full-time employment and retain their housing support, with an adjustment in their differential rent.

Year

Additional households supported at year end

Number of rent supplement transfers

2017

17,916

4,131

2018

17,926

3,329

2019 (end Q3)

12,853

2,210

My Department is supportive of any option which would avoid a situation where a local authority tenant could become homeless.  In 2018, local authorities were informed that they may consider transferring Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) tenants to HAP support in exceptional circumstances only and subject to the agreement of the tenant.  HAP may only be considered as an alternative housing option for the RAS household in circumstances where the local authority have exhausted all available options to retain an existing RAS contract or to secure alternative accommodation for the tenant under the RAS scheme, or using stock arising from their own supply for the tenant.  In addition, the tenant must be willing to accept HAP and understand what a transfer to HAP means before such a transfer is put in place.  

 To the end of Q3 2019, 36 transfers from RAS to HAP had been recorded by local authorities.

My Department continues to keep the operation of the HAP scheme under review, which I consider to be a key vehicle in meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme outlined under Rebuilding Ireland.