Minister says measure is ‘targeted to those who want to bring Ukrainians into their homes’
Empty nesters can earn up to €14,000 a year renting rooms to people without affecting their own pension or social welfare entitlements.
The new move was announced today by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys.
It is expected to benefit Ukrainian refugees, students and others caught up in the accommodation crisis.
The exemption also covers the €400 a month that hosts are to receive, so that their pension and other benefits will not be affected by the direct host payment.
“Everybody across the board would benefit from the announcement I made today,” Ms Humphreys said.
“I'm bringing in a disregard of €14,000 in earnings for those on social welfare payments. So you can earn up to €14,000 per annum and it won't impact on your social welfare.
“I think it will encourage people, particularly older people who may be living alone, and empty nesters who would have the space. Maybe they'd like to bring somebody in to live with them in the house.
“They can do so now in the confidence that it won't impact their social welfare payment. It is about removing barriers.”
She added that the measure was “obviously targeted to those who want to bring Ukrainians into their home” because the State didn't want people thinking such a generous move would affect their living alone allowance or fuel allowance.
“It won't happen if you bring somebody into your home on that basis. Everything will continue as normal,” she said.
“We want to encourage people to bring people into their home if that’s what suits them. One barrier is the fear that they might lose some of their entitlements.
“It (the barrier) is now taken away. We're going to allow them to keep their living alone allowance, keep their fuel allowance and keep their household benefits package.”
The exemption “applies across the board” to all who might avail of spare accommodation, with blanket exemption of the money earned by householders, whether their new housemate is a refugee, student, separated person or anyone else.
“We're going to do it on a basis of 12 months and I'll review it after that,” Ms Humphreys said at an event in Tallaght. “I'll be sending the regulations very shortly. And people can then bring somebody into their house and rent them rooms.”
Before the announcement, a householder would lose their living alone allowance if they brought somebody else in – including a refugee, she said.
“Now, if you're getting the €400 per month as well, this means that more people will take up this offer.
“I would encourage people to look at it. It may suit some and it may not. For older people, they just might like a bit of company in the house, and this allows them to do that.”