BIG READ: 'The response is a bit ridiculous,' councillor hits out at reply to motion

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Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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"The response is a bit ridiculous," said Cllr Adrienne Wallace as she hit out at the Housing Minister's reply to her motion on the Housing Assistance Payment. 

Cllr Adrienne Wallace had tabled a motion at the November meeting of the Carlow Muncipal District calling on the local authority to write to the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy.

The motion wanted "to stress that the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme (HAPS) is currently not fit for purpose and to call for an increase in the amount people in Carlow can receive". 

Cllr Wallace claimed: "The average listed rent in Carlow is now €963, up 62% from its lowest point. Yet the amount available to a couple or one adult with three children in Carlow is only €630." 

A row erupted between councillors at the November meeting of Carlow Municipal District over landlords' profits in Carlow. 

However, the motion was subsequently passed by a show of hands and the Minister's office has since responded and this was provided to Cllr Wallace and members at the January meeting of the MD. 

In response, the Minister said: "Each local authority has statutory discretion to agree to a HAP payment up to 20% above the prescribed maximum rent limit in circumstances where it is necessary, because of local rental market conditions, to secure appropriate accommodation for a household that requires it.

"In the Carlow County Council area, at the end of Q3 2019, 29.2% of households had benefited from additional discretion with the average rate being 17% above the relevant rent limits. 

"221 HAP tenancies have been created by Carlow County Council in 2019. This represents an average weekly HAP tenancy set up of four, which is broadly in line with targets set.

"The data available to my Department indicates that the current 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.

"Furthermore, increasing the HAP limits in certain areas could have further inflationary effects, leading to a detrimental impact on the wider rental market, including for the households who are not receiving HAP support."

Cllr Wallace hit out at the response and added: "The response is a bit ridiculous.

"The market needs to be toned down. It's out of control."

HAP is a form of social housing support provided by all local authorities. HAP means that local authorities can provide housing assistance for households who qualify for social housing support, including many long-term Rent Supplement recipients.

Under HAP, local authorities will make a monthly payment to a landlord, subject to terms and conditions including rent limits, on a HAP tenant’s behalf.