Thursday, 6th June 2013
Threshold Gives Cautious Welcome to New Rent Supplement Levels
– Housing charity highlights need for ongoing review of rent limits –
Threshold, the national housing charity, has broadly welcomed the changes to rent supplement limits being introduced by the Minister for Social Protection. The changes will see limits increasing in high-demand urban areas, such as Dublin and Galway. Rent limit reductions in rural areas will need to be kept under close review, the charity said.
According to media reports this morning (06.06.13), the changes will see the rent supplement limit for a single person in Dublin increasing from €475 per month to €520, and for a family with three children from €950 to €1,000. Single people in Cork will also see an increase in their limit – from €450 to €485 – while, in Galway, the limit for a single person sharing with other adults is due to increase from €230 to €280. In many other parts of the country, limits will either decrease or remain the same.
Commenting today (06.06.13), Bob Jordan, Chief Executive of Threshold, said the increased limits are recognition by the Minister that rents are rising in many urban areas. In the current rapidly-changing rental market, limits must be reviewed on a more regular basis, he said.
“We are pleased to see that the Minister is taking on board some of the recommendations made by Threshold in recent submissions to her Department,” he said. “However, in a rapidly changing market – where demand for rental properties is high, rents are rising and supply is dwindling – rent supplement limits need to be kept under constant review. The limits are only reviewed every 18 months and decisions are taken at a central, national level – often by people who are far removed from the reality facing rent supplement tenants on the ground. This needs to change.”
In addition to keeping rents under review, Threshold is calling for more decision-making powers to be given to local Department of Social Protection officials (formerly known as Community Welfare Officers).
“Those working on the ground have local knowledge and are best placed to help vulnerable households who are looking for accommodation,” said Bob Jordan. “The personal, face-to-face approach is really important in ensuring that people find suitable accommodation and in preventing people from losing their homes.”
A full list of the changes in rent supplement rent limits for different accommodation types in Ireland can be found here – http://ow.ly/mF8bz
Senator Aideen Hayden Calls for Strategy to Deal with Housing Shortage
Threshold also called for the Government to speed up the transfer of the rent supplement scheme to local authorities – under what will be called the Housing Assistance Payment scheme.
“The current ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for rent supplement is not working,” said Senator Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold. “Local authorities have traditionally had a more hands-on approach in relation to helping tenants into housing, and their approach is recognised as working.
“The new Housing Assistance Payment scheme will have the benefit of being based on the needs of individuals and how much they can afford to pay. Those availing of the scheme will be facilitated to take up work, while still getting some help with their housing costs. The sooner the Government implements this scheme, the better.
“The real test of the new rent supplement limits will be whether people can access housing or remain in their current homes in this rapidly changing market.
“There is also an emerging issue around the shortage of housing in urban areas. I am calling on the Government to bring forward a new housing strategy to deal with this as a matter of urgency,” she said.
Further information on Threshold is available at www.threshold.ie.