Welfare recipients can earn €14,000 a year renting out room, under plan

New measures aim to ease housing crisis and help Ukrainian refugees find homes

Social welfare recipients can rent a room in their house up to a value of €14,000 a year without affecting their payments, under new Government measures aimed at easing the accommodation crisis.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys is to bring forward new measures to free up accommodation both for the domestic housing crisis but also to help with the existing pressures in finding accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

Under the plans, a new disregard will be introduced to a limit of €14,000 per year for those who rent a room in their own home, which is similar to Revenue’s existing rent-a-room relief scheme which has been in operation for a number of years. The new rules will apply to those who are in receipt of means-tested social welfare payments.

The Government will also amend guidelines for the living alone allowance to ensure that a social welfare recipient who provides accommodation in their own home will not lose such allowance as a result.

Under other changes, a parent arriving alone with their children from Ukraine will be able to access the one-parent family payment. This will cover situations such as where a parent arrives with their children while their partner remains in Ukraine.

The Minister said the measures “are about removing the barriers facing people who are in receipt of social welfare, and who may wish to let out a room in their home. What this is about is giving people certainty. It’s about ensuring people who receive a welfare payment are treated in an equal manner to other taxpayers. And it will also assist in terms of responding to the serious challenges in finding accommodation for people arriving from Ukraine.”

The Cabinet was told on Tuesday that affordable accommodation in many parts of the country is scarce and more is needed for those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

A Government spokesman said on Tuesday evening that the total number of arrivals into the country stood at 30,343 with a total of 21,277 having sought accommodation from the State. The vast majority have been accommodated in hotels, but in more recent weeks, emergency and group accommodation has been used.

It is now expected that between 31,000 and 33,000 people will have sought accommodation in the State by the end of June. Serviced and emergency accommodation is currently at 80 per cent capacity, and the Government estimates that while there will be no shortage of accommodation at the end of next month, all types of housing will be nearing capacity.

Numbers arriving into the country fell significantly over the Easter holidays but the Cabinet was told that the number is beginning to climb again, peaking in the last week at 421 arrivals on May 11th.

More than 900 people have been placed in 313 pledged properties nationwide.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times