Written Answers - Social Welfare Code

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 732 No. 5

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  72.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan  Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan   asked the Minister for Social Protection  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton   the correct rate support payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12242/11]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Health Service Executive has advised me that rent supplement of €652 per month has been awarded to the person concerned. The HSE has further advised that it will review the rent supplement entitlement in this case and inform the person concerned of its decision in due course.

  73.  Deputy Clare Daly  Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly   asked the Minister for Social Protection  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton   her plans to deal with the situation whereby persons who attempt to meet the conditions of jobseeker’s benefit by taking up fixed-term contracts of short duration can find themselves excluded from applying for posts (details supplied) initiated by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. [12276/11]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The then Minister for Finance announced the introduction of a community work placement initiative for up to 5,000 people in his Budget Statement to Dáil Éireann on 7 December 2010. The initiative, known as Tús, was launched on 21 December 2010. Work on developing the necessary implementation structures, including running trials, has been under way since then. The aim of Tús is to provide short-term, quality work opportunities for those who have been unemployed for more than a year. The criteria applying to the recruitment of the supervisor or team leader and to the selection of participants for work placements are the same. A candidate must satisfy certain conditions. He or she must be unemployed and in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment for at least 12 months; be in receipt of jobseekers allowance; and be fully unemployed. These criteria ensure the focus of Tús is on those who are long-term unemployed. For this reason, eligibility is confined to those on the Live Register for 12 months and in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance. These provisions ensure a targeted approach to those affected by long-term unemployment.

  74.  Deputy Brian Stanley  Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley   asked the Minister for Social Protection  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton   the reason there is a ban on rent supplement in an area (details supplied); and her plans to lift this ban. [11525/11]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The Government decided in 1997 to approve the redevelopment of Ballymun and a regeneration programme commenced in 1998. The provision of rent supplement in the Ballymun designated area was identified by housing authorities as a risk to the tenure diversity objective of the project which is to achieve a more balanced tenure mix by providing additional private market housing. In response to the concerns about achieving a tenure balance mix, section 25 of the Social Welfare and Pen[847]sions Act 2007 provided that a payment of rent supplement can be refused in respect of accommodation which is situated in an area notified to the Minister for Social Protection by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government as being an area of regeneration.

The Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government advised in 2008 that, on the advice of Dublin City Council, he had decided that the Ballymun area merited designation as an area of regeneration for the purposes of section 25 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007. Accordingly, with effect from 27 November 2008, rent supplement is not paid in respect of accommodation situated in the Ballymun regeneration area, as outlined by the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government. The measures provided for in section 25 are not a blanket refusal of rent supplement in areas of regeneration. Specific provision is made to ensure that people already residing in such areas and in receipt of rent supplement may continue to receive payment; and that people already residing in such areas in private rental accommodation and who may have recourse to rent supplement in the future would not have their entitlement restricted. It is not intended that the section 25 provisions will be open-ended and will be reviewed jointly by the Department and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government when the Ballymun regeneration is completed in 2012 or earlier, if appropriate.

  75.  Deputy Brian Stanley  Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley   asked the Minister for Social Protection  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton   her plans to develop a strategy to ensure that the most competitive rents are secured for persons availing of rent supplement. [11519/11]

  76.  Deputy Brian Stanley  Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley   asked the Minister for Social Protection  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton   the number of persons currently availing of the rent supplement scheme; the amount spent on this scheme in 2009 and 2010; the projected spend for 2011; and if she will provide a breakdown based on each local authority. [11518/11]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 76 together.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The primary purpose of the scheme is to provide short-term assistance, rather than to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. Rent supplements are subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant for rent supplement may incur. Rent limits are set at levels that enable different types of eligible households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation, having regard to different rental market conditions that prevail in various parts of the State. The objective is to ensure that rent supplement is not paid in respect of overly expensive accommodation having regard to the size of the household and market conditions. Furthermore, it is essential that State support for tenants does not give rise to inflated rental prices and overcharging by landlords. Setting or retaining maximum rent limits at a higher level than are justified by the open market can have a distorting effect on the rental market, leading to a more general rise in rent levels. This in turn may worsen the affordability of rental accommodation unnecessarily, with a particularly negative impact for those tenants on lower incomes who are trying to support themselves without State aid. The Department continually monitors current market conditions throughout the country so the existing limits allow eligible households to secure and retain suitable rented accommodation. A breakdown of rent supplement expenditure and recipient numbers by local authority is not available. National statistics are provided in the following tabular statement.

Tabular Statement

Rent Supplement: Recipients and Expenditure

2009 to 2011

Period Recipients Cost
€million
2009 93,030
As at December 2009
511
2010 97,260
As at December 2010
516
2011 97,056
As at April 2011
465
Revised Estimate Volumes for 2011 expenditure


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