Fine Gael TD Michael Ring proposed at the Westport Joint Policing Committee on Monday that the JPC should write to Minister Mary Hanafin, Minister for Social and Family Affairs, in relation to the rent supplement scheme and recommend that the HSE will not provide rent supplement for people who are not on the local authority housing list or who have not had police checks.
The Westport based TD said that rent allowance is costing the country €500 million, money which could be better spent on health, education and houses and is a scheme “which would not happen anywhere else in the world but Ireland”.
This proposal was seconded by Councillor Martin Keane, who commented that the way in which the HSE operates is a “whole codswallop of a job”.
Cllr Myles Staunton said that “landlords have a lot to answer for” and that some of them are “extremely greedy” as they “sign a lease to characters” who they know are not right for the area. Dep Ring concurred that a lot of landlords don’t care who they get rent from.
Gabriel Irwin, community welfare officer with the HSE, said that the HSE do not check on recipient behaviour but check that these people are still financially liable to qualify for rent supplement. Mr Irwin added that he has not received any reports of fraud in Westport and if he is made aware of such activity he would pass this information on to the Social Welfare Fraud Squad.
Dep Ring told Mr Irwin that the problem they have is with regard to legislation and said: “If I was Minister for Social Welfare I’d target this scheme”.