Fresh concern is emerging in Clare over the government’s Housing Assistance Payment scheme for those with long-term housing needs.
Figures released by the Ministers for Social Protection and Housing appeared to suggest a fall in the number of people in Clare receiving a rent supplement but this has led to some confusion among members of the county’s Housing Committee.
Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy have outlined the number of people, by county, on two housing schemes.
According to the latest available figures, 63 people in Clare were receiving rent supplement at the end of September, down from 98 in March.
While, the number of people on the Rental Accommodation Scheme in Clare, which is aimed at those with long-term housing needs, rose from 373 to 394 in that period.
This would appear to suggest that while short-term supports are on a downward trend, the need for help in the longer term is increasing.
However, the Housing Assistance Payment began to roll out here four years ago, to replace the rent supplement and Chair of Clare’s Housing Committee, Independent Councillor Gerry Flynn, says there appears to be an element of confusion at play.
In a statement to Clare FM, the Department of Social Protection has confirmed it is expected that the vast majority of people who have long term housing needs and are receiving Rent Supplement support will have transferred to HAP by the end of December 2020.
However, despite HAP running in this county since 2015 there is still concern about how effective the scheme is.
Ennis Sinn Féin Representative Tommy Guilfoyle, who is also a member of the Housing Committee, says it’s not fit for purpose.
HAP was introduced in Co Clare in June 2015 – Rent Supplement recipients at that date were approximately 1,300. At the end of September 2019 there were 63 recipients of Rent Supplement in Co Clare, compared to 1,400 recipients of HAP for the same period.