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Coughlan must remove cap on rent to avoid further rise in homelessness

15 June, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Community and Family Affairs Seán Crowe TD raised in the Dáil today the plight of those denied rent supplement although badly in need of this support. He expressed disbelief at Minister Mary Coughlan's reply that she was "unaware of any cases of hardship arising from the application of the new measures‚ pointing to the cases of those who he said „had to conspire with landlords" to ensure their rent could be paid.

Deputy Crowe said:

"The very worrying trend now is that increasing numbers of vulnerable people are being forced to stay in situations which are either dangerous or detrimental to their health and well-being. Young single mothers, women and children desperate to leave abusive homes or people simply stuck in grossly overcrowded homes are left in a constant cycle of despair at the impossibility of living somewhere safe and secure.

"Minister Coughlan says that her Department is not aware of increased hardship.She must be living in cloud cuckoo-land. She should inform herself by talking to the groups involved in the housing issue, for example, the Simon Community, Threshold and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The reality is that, in Dublin, the average cost of accommodation is €121 per week, which is above the cap allowed by Minister Coughlan. Social welfare tenants are now forced to conspire with their landlords in providing rent receipts. They then have to dip into their measly social welfare payments to pay the shortfall in rent. Surely she must be aware of this problem from her clinics? An increasing number of people who come to me and to other deputies are using their social welfare money, borrowing or being subsidised by their families to pay the full amount of rent, above and beyond what they are capable of paying.

"Maybe she will finally listen to their anguish and anger now that the electorate have spoken, or rather, have roared. In a time of plenty, it is high time for her to wake up and to reverse these callous cuts." ENDS

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