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HAP discretion rate changes for the first time in 6 years, increasing to 35%

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien says he will be expanding the couple’s rate to single people.

HAP is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need and is administered by the local authorities, who pay the landlords directly.
HAP is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need and is administered by the local authorities, who pay the landlords directly.
Image: rollingnews.ie

THE HOUSING ASSISTANCE Payment (HAP) discretion rate is to rise to 35% from next month, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has announced today.

The change means that local authorities can now pay up to 35% more than the current set HAP rates – which differs between local authorities.

Speaking at this morning’s FEANSTA conference, he also said he would be expanding the couple’s rate to single people.

This will apply to new HAP tenancies from next month.

The Journal reported last week that that the report on rising the HAP limits was due to be published shortly amid growing pressure on the government to get a handle on the increasing homeless numbers. 

HAP is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need and is administered by the local authorities, who pay the landlords directly.

The rent being charged for the accommodation must be within the limits for the household type set in each local authority area. 

Up until now, flexibility of up to 20% could be provided currently on a case-by-case basis, and 50% in Dublin.

The 20% rate will now increase to 35%. This is the first rate change since 2016.

In the midst of an ever-worsening housing crisis, charities and those in opposition have long called for the HAP limits to be increased, with the Taoiseach also telling the Dáil that he is in favour of raising the limit. 

The Housing Agency carried out an analysis on behalf of the Department of Housing before Christmas on the HAP discretion level which is available to local authorities.

That analysis and recommendations have now been presented to the minister. It is understood the minister is now engaging with the Department of Finance to make the change operational shortly. 

Announcing his intention to make changes to the HAP discretion limits the minister said: 

 “I am working with my government colleagues to roll out an increase in the HAP discretion rate to 35% and expanding the couple’s rate to single persons.

“This will secure and expand more tenancies and is something I know many Irish delegates here today have been seeking.

“Ultimately, I want us to get to a place where we are decreasing our reliance on market subsidies and we will do that through significantly scaling up our social housing supply. Housing for all sets us on a pathway to delivering 90,000 social homes between now and the end of 2030.”

The conference today, titled ’Towards a Vision for Ending Homelessness’ was attended by 300 groups. 

The latest Department of Housing homeless figures show that the number of people who were homeless nationwide in the last week of April was 10,049.

This represents a rise of 224 from the 9,825 homeless in March.

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Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has welcomed the announcement of changes to the scheme, stating that people are struggling and renters in particular are experiencing the hard end of the increased cost of living.

“Rents have soared over the last five years so the announcement of a change to the HAP scheme is hugely welcome. Hard pressed families will be relieved with this news and it is particularly welcome to see attention given to the over 400,000 people who live alone in Ireland.

“Single people have been particularly impacted by the housing policy failure and this is a welcome break for them,” she said.

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