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Dáil Question on delays in Rent Supplement application process

Question No: 442 Ref No: 47266-12

To the Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Minister for Social Protection If she will provide details of the average processing time for rent supplement applications; the reason there appears to be long delays in the processing of rent supplement applicants; the measures being taken to deal with the backlog; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Anthony Lawlor.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 6th November, 2012.

R E P L Y

Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources and who do not have accommodation available to them from another source. The overall aim is to provide short-term assistance and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently approximately 90,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement, for which the Government has provided €436m in 2012.

The timescale for determining individual applications for rent supplement is dependant, among other things, on the availability of the required information, such as details of the applicant’s income, bank statements, information from landlords, etc. In addition, some aspects of the applications are inevitably time consuming and delays can occur where further investigations or third party evidence is required. Delays can also arise if the applicant is slow to respond to requests for additional information. If the Deputy has a concern in relation to processing delays in a particular area or in respect of an individual, they should provide this detail to the Department for follow up.

A key objective of the transfer of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Service Executive to my Department on 1st October 2011 is to provide a streamlined, consistent and enhanced service to the customer. The process of integration is on-going and significant progress has already been made with a unified service, Intreo, now in the process of being delivered in four offices. The delivery of services in relation to processing rent supplement applications is also subject to on-going review.

Statistics are not available on the average length of time taken to assess rent supplement applications. The provision of a prompt service is a major objective for the Department’s staff dealing with rent supplement applications. This is tempered by the necessity to ensure that every case is fully investigated and that all cases are dealt with in a consistent and fair manner.

I am satisfied that the Department’s staff dealing with these applications make every effort to ensure rent supplement claims are processed in an efficient manner.

ENDS