Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on the Minster for Social Protection to announce an extension of the Covid-19 rent supplement scheme to the end of 2020. The call comes as figures released via Parliamentary Question show a 20% increase in rent supplement payments since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“New figures released to me via Parliamentary Question show there are now 19,200 people in receipt of the rent supplement payment.
“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, 3,800 additional household are in receipt of rent supplement payments, with a further 1,400 waiting for their claims to be processed.
“This is despite the governments refusal to promote the scheme and its reluctance to let the public know of the changes they made to the scheme in order to make it easier to access and administer.
“In fact, I had to force the Minister via the FOI process to reveal the content of a Departmental circular that outlined the changes that had been made to the scheme.
“These changes include a significantly shorter application form and applicants must now show that they have lost income due to the pandemic, instead of working less than 30 hours. There is also greater flexibility around the length of tenancy and payment rates.
“It is deeply disappointing that the Minister for Social Protection refused, after calls from SAFE Ireland and other domestic violence organisations, to make further changes to the eligibility criteria for victims of domestic violence who urgently need to source alternative accommodation.
“It is important that renters know about this scheme so they can avoid racking up rental debt that will have to be dealt with post Covid-19. It is clear that the Minister must now extend access to the Covid-19 rent supplement scheme until at least the end of 2020.