Threshold – the national housing organisation – has welcomed the decision by the Government not to cut the Rent Supplement payment any further in today’s budget. However, it has said that the cut in Job Seekers Allowance for under-24s will put people at risk of homelessness.
According to Threshold’s Chairperson, Aideen Hayden, “It is a huge relief for people living in the private rented sector, and reliant on welfare payments, that Rent Supplement was not subject to further cuts today. The payment has already been the subject of cuts over the past year, and today’s decision to
maintain existing levels reflects an acceptance that those who are most at risk of poverty cannot be further marginalised.”
However, Threshold has said that the welfare cuts targeted at younger people will result in hardships, particularly for those living in private rented accommodation. “By cutting Job Seekers Allowance to a paltry level for young people, the Government is basically asking them to return to their parents’ home to live. This is unrealistic for most, and will put many young people at a real risk of homelessness.
“Job losses among those in their early 20s have been extremely high, especially where young males are concerned. The impact of the reduction in Job Seekers Allowance for this age-group means that, at minimum, for those who qualify for Rent Supplement, a €24 weekly payment will also be required from their
social welfare payment. The net effect for some is that they will only have €75 left to survive on each week, which is too inadequate to cover good nutrition, heating and other basic essentials. Our fear is that many young people will fall into rent arrears and ultimately run the risk of becoming homeless.”
Threshold said that a commitment to look at extending the legal proceedings for mortgage arrears from six to 12 months offered some immediate relief to those in repayment difficulties, but something more definitive and useful could have been devised to address this problem. “It would be more realistic and helpful if an actual fund was put in place – which could be operated by each local authority – to genuinely assist people out of mortgage repayment difficulties. The proposed extension to the moratorium will really only serve to delay the pain for many in mortgage repayment difficulties,” added Ms Hayden.
Threshold said that the recession was impacting significantly on people living in private rented accommodation, and that the number and severity of cases being presented to the organisation were growing on a daily basis.