To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the estimated first and full year cost of increasing housing assistance payment limits at 5% intervals.
The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) rent limits were increased significantly in July 2016, including by up to 60% in some areas. The Government also provided flexibility to each local authority to agree to a HAP payment up to 20% above the maximum rent limit, where it is necessary, because of local rental market conditions.
At the end of Q4 2017, 22.4% of the total number of households being supported by HAP were benefiting from the additional flexibility. When the additional discretion available to homeless households in the Dublin Region is removed, 16.7% of households nationally were benefiting from the additional flexibility. In those cases, the average rate of discretionary payment being used was 15.2% above the relevant rent limits. Data for Q1 2018 will be available shortly.
The previous revision to the maximum rent limits was proposed jointly by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and my Department following a comprehensive rent review process. The review considered a number of data sources, namely the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) database, Daft.ie Rental Market Reports and the CSO Rental Indices. Consultation and engagement with those administering both schemes was also carried out. In relation to the Deputy's query, detailed analysis would be required to provide the figures requested in order to ensure any increases reflect the market trends experienced under both the rent supplement scheme and the HAP scheme.
My Department monitors HAP data on an ongoing basis, as well as other key information relating to the private rental market. Indications are that the current HAP rent limits, and the flexibility to exceed those rent limits, provide local authorities with sufficient capacity to assist households in securing rented accommodation that meets their needs.
I have no plans at present to increase HAP rent limits, a course of action which could have further inflationary effects on the private rented sector and thereby have a potentially detrimental impact on the wider rental market, including for those households who are not receiving HAP support.
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