Cut to rent benefit a 'disaster', says Stagg
Cuts to rent allowance – paid to the poorest tenants in the private-rented sector – and changes to the way it is paid, have been an “unmitigated disaster” and “need to be reversed”, according to a senior Government TD.
Emmet Stagg, chief whip for the Labour Party, said cuts averaging 28 per cent since 2009 to the maximum rent a person on rent allowance may pay, were “creating real difficulties and hardships”, including homelessness, for people across the State.
He would use “every bit of muscle” he had in Government to reverse the cuts. He was speaking at the publication of research by homelessness charity Focus Ireland on rent supplement cuts since 2009.
The supplement is paid to 97,000 people on social welfare living in the private-rented sector, at a cost of €500 million a year. In January, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the rent being paid was too high in some areas and issued new maximum rents tenants could pay. The personal contribution a tenant would have to make also increased from €24 per week to €30 this year. It had been €13 in 2009.The cuts are projected to save €22 million this year.
Mike Allen, head of advocacy with Focus Ireland, said rents had not come down and in some areas had gone up, forcing significant numbers of tenants into housing that did not meet legal standards and others into homelessness. The cuts were also preventing homeless people finding accommodation.
The report Out of Reach: The impact of changes in Rent Supplement, is based on “small scale” research, of interviews with 10 tenants in Dublin and Galway and a survey of 27 landlords and agents.
It found widespread payment of top-ups by tenants, where the tenants take accommodation where the rent exceeds the threshold but they top up the supplement, on top of the €30 contribution they must make.