Department of Spin failing people relying on HAP
- HAP increases promised last month remain unchanged
Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said renters relying on HAP are still struggling as the HAP increases announced last month have not yet been actioned by the Minister.
Senator Moynihan said it is unbelievable that local authorities have not received communication from the Minister about the new discretionary rates despite the announcement made in June.
Senator Moynihan said:
“Labour has consistently called for the HAP rate to be revised and updated in light of the cost of living crisis. We welcomed the news that the Minister would do so last month. However, it’s now clear that no changes have been made, local authorities have not received the updated rates, and ultimately, people will lose their homes while the Minister focuses on spin rather than effective housing policy.
“Rents have soared and people are struggling. The HAP scheme has not been revised since 2017 so any proposed changes to take the pressure off people need to be implemented without delay. My concern is that the proposed discretionary rate will not go far enough. Analysis carried out by my office has showed that the HAP system has effectively collapsed.
“While long term, we need much more social housing built at scale, short term we need to revise the basic HAP limit to reflect the levels renters are being charged. In particular, single people are really struggling to find accommodation which is being reflected every month in our homeless figures.
“It’s outrageous that the Minister would make empty policy announcements when many people are fraught trying to either stay in their rented accommodation or struggling to find a suitable place to live.
“There are a number of renters on low and middle incomes who aren’t receiving social supports yet are struggling to keep a roof over their head. When the Budget is announced, we need to see targeted relief for people in this situation. For example, the Minister could progress the implementation of the Income Eligibility Scheme as laid out in the Housing for All plan and ensure that the income limits to qualify for social housing are revised.
“Government has capacity to implement the changes to the HAP scheme without any further delay. The Housing Department’s capital spending is €120 million, or 21% below its profile. So, changes to the HAP scheme can be made, but houses must also be built to tackle the fundamental lack of supply of homes.
“The HAP scheme is totally out of kilter with the reality of the housing market. Right now, there are a number of counties without homes available for people availing of HAP which must be addressed. HAP limits not been revised since 2017, yet we know that rents have soared in this same period. Government must urgently commit to implement the promised changes to HAP to relieve the pressure on renters. Unfortunately, the government is failing to think about the practicalities of people at risk of homelessness. We are beyond crisis point. In light of the housing crisis and the cost of living crisis, it’s time that government address shortcomings in our social housing and HAP.”