The Government’s approach to the cut in rent allowance is ill thought out and has created a great deal of fear and anxiety among those in receipt of the payment.
That’s according to Sinn Féin Councillor Rose Conway-Walsh who is calling on the Government to re-examine the decision, made in the 2012 Budget, to cut the rent supplement by €22bn, leading to new rent limits being set.
“Although this cut was announced in Budget 2012, it is only now that families and individuals are receiving their review letters informing them of these new limits. This has left many families extremely worried about their future. Many of them found it hard to find a landlord who would accept rent allowance in the first instance, and will find it very difficult to renegotiate their rent downwards.
“Some are facing the prospect of having to move and quite often it can be difficult for a tenant to find suitable accommodation in the same neighbourhood, meaning moving further from friends and family, or perhaps moving a child to a different school.
“It is entirely unfair of the Government to expect such a vulnerable category of tenants to renegotiate these rents downwards themselves, when they are in such a poor bargaining position. We believe that the Government needs to go to landlords and negotiate with them directly on this issue, to ensure that families are not forced from their homes.
“Sinn Féin has also consistently argued for the use of the tens of thousands of NAMA properties which are currently unused to be used to house those on the housing list, and those getting rent allowance.
“The Government’s response to this issue has been meagre. It has even failed to provide any support and information as to how to go about asking their landlords for a reduction in their rent.
“There are 98,000 people in receipt of rent allowance in Ireland, and this includes all from single parents, to families, to the elderly, however, they are rarely in a position to play hard ball on rent. The Government’s number one priority as regards rental accommodation should be ensuring that none of those currently relying on it will be evicted on account of this decision.”