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Sharp increase in rent supplement figures highlights chronic need for social housing

3 April, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said new figures highlighting a 20,000 increase in the number of people receiving rent supplement over the past year highlights the chronic need for social housing.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said in the current economic climate the Government’s priority should be to invest in social housing and create jobs in the construction sector rather than supplementing the mortgage payments of wealthy landlords.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “New figures show a sharp increase in the numbers of people seeking rent supplement in line with significant increases in unemployment figures. There has been a 20,000 increase in rent supplement recipients in the past year alone. This is placing a huge cost on the exchequer.

“Rather than continuing to supplement the mortgage payments of wealthy landlords the Government’s priority must be to build social housing to house these people as soon as possible. A new social housing building programme would bring a much needed boost to the construction sector and may even bring some of the rent supplement recipients back into employment.

“The rent supplement scheme was originally meant to be a stop gap measure to provide housing applicants with accommodation while they await social housing. However, due to the Government’s neglect of social housing need, it has become more of a supplement to wealthy landlords who use it to pay off mortgages on their second or third homes as applicants in many cases wait six to ten years to be housed. This situation should never have been allowed to develop and must now be rectified particularly in the current economic climate.

“The Government must invest in social housing.” ENDS

Recipients of Rent Supplement at Quarterly Intervals, 2006 to 2009:

Quarter                                  Recipients Quarter 1 2006                       60,521 Quarter 2 2006                       60,206 Quarter 3 2006                       60,135 Quarter 4 2006                       59,861 Quarter 1 2007                       59,214 Quarter 2 2007                       58,542 Quarter 3 2007                       58,524 Quarter 4 2007                       59,726 Quarter 1 2008                       61,158 Quarter 2 2008                       63,658 Quarter 3 2008                       67,519 Quarter 4 2008                       74,038 Quarter 1 2009                       82,986

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