Father wants more rent money so children can visit
A SEPARATED father wants the State to pay enough rent supplement so he can get a home big enough to allow him have regular visits from his four children with whom he has open and overnight access.
In a case with implications for the entitlements of one parent families in similar circumstances, the Dublin man, currently unemployed, argues he should not be treated as a single person in his rent supplement application.
The High Court heard that his children live with their mother, who is working, and her new partner in the family home in another city.
For a number of years until his separation in 2011, the man cared for the children full-time at home while their mother worked.
He returned to Dublin in early 2012 to try and find work and lives with his parents.
While he and his children have been deemed eligible for social housing, he has been told he will be on a waiting list for five years.
He is challenging a decision by a deciding officer, upheld by an appeals officer, that he is entitled only to the €475 monthly rent supplement payment made to single persons.
He wants €900 to cover rent of a house which could accommodate himself and regular visits from his children and also allow his oldest child to live with him.
Ms Justice Marie Baker has been asked to determine issues including if there is a legal requirement to consider the man's family circumstances and whether his being treated as a single person for rent supplement purposes amounts to a breach of his family rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.
The proceedings are against the Minister for Social Protection, the Chief Appeals Officer and the State and the man is represented by the Northside Community Law Centre in Dublin.
Outlining the case, Dervla Browne SC, for the man, said he was not arguing he was entitled to a particular amount of rent supplement but rather challenging the decision to treat him as a single person.
He was also challenging the refusal of the Chief Appeals Officer to review his case.
Cormac Corrigan SC, for the respondents, said a core issue in the case was whether there is an entitlement to refuse the man the level of rent supplement sought by him.
The case continues.