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Rent Supplement payments rise by 33% since beginning of Covid-19 pandemic

The number of households on the payment has risen by 5,136 since mid-March.

Image: Shutterstock/Albert Pego

NEW FIGURES SHOW that the number of people on Rent Supplement is still rising, with 33% more households receiving the payment than before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figures obtained by Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin via a Parliamentary Question show there are now 20,400 people in receipt of the payment, a rise of 5,136 households since 11 March.

A further 1,900 claims for the payment are also pending, according to figures provided by Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty.

The scheme is a means-tested welfare subsidy for those living in private rented accommodation, who cannot afford to pay their rent because of a substantial change in their circumstances.

It differs from the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), which is the payment made to those qualified for social housing support and on the local authority’s housing list.

They follow increases in the number of people on the scheme during the first weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, housing groups told TheJournal.ie that Ireland could see a rise in evictions as a result of the crisis, owing to a build up of rent arrears while people are out of work.

A ban on evictions is currently in place until the end of June, although housing minister Eoghan Murphy is expected to extend the moratorium beyond that date.

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A number of changes have also been made to the eligibility for Rent Supplement, allowing those with tenancies of more than four weeks to qualify for the scheme if they have been made unemployed due to Covid-19.

There have also been changes to the rate at which individuals’ and couples’ means are calculated, as well as to the flexibility around how much Rent Supplement can be paid to an individual household.

The minister told Ó Broin that the new flexibility within the eligibility for Rent Supplement had been extended to 19 June, and is being reviewed as part of the government’s ongoing response to the Covid-19 emergency.

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