Integrating Housing Services: Rent Supplement to Housing Assistance Payment

The Minister for Housing & Planning Jan O’Sullivan TD announced today (27
March 2012) that the Government gave their agreement in principle to
proposals for the transfer of responsibility for providing financial
assistance to persons on rent supplement from the Department of Social
Protection to housing authorities. Housing authorities will provide this
service using a new Housing Assistance Payment.

The joint proposal by the Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan
TD and the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD arose out of a
commitment in the Programme for Government to review the operation of the
rent supplement scheme and bring forward appropriate proposals to integrate
rent supplement and social housing support systems. This commitment in the
Programme for Government followed concerns about the evolution of rent
supplement into a long-term housing support; which is was never designed to
be. It was also one of the key reforms announced in the Minister for
Housing and Planning’s Housing Policy Statement in June 2011

The proposals approved in principle today are designed to bring a number of
benefits for householders, the State and housing authorities, including:

– facilitating easier job take-up by tenants;
– providing greater security of tenure for tenants, greater stability in
the private rented market and contributing towards the creation of a higher
quality, private rented sector through improved standards;
– providing a more integrated and streamlined service for households
seeking support from the State to meet housing costs;
– allowing local authorities more flexibility in assisting those in need
of social housing support.

Minister O’Sullivan said that: “this is an important step in removing the
poverty trap in which many people in rent supplement find themselves. It
will allow them to take up opportunities for employment without losing
their entire housing support. It also makes more sense to bring people in
long-term rent supplement under the general social housing umbrella”

Implementation plans are now being advanced by a steering group chaired by
the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government with a
detailed implementation plan and economic assessment of proposals to be
brought to Government this summer with a planned commencement date in
January, 2013.

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