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Welfare recipients in line for greater rent supplements

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A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.

A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.

A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.

WELFARE recipients who face significant hikes in their monthly rents are in line for greater financial supports from the government under new plans set to be unveiled today.

The Department of Social Protection has developed a suite of new proposals in direct response to soaring rent prices, the Herald has learned.

At present, thousands of recipients of rent supplement across the country are facing financial difficulty as a result of their landlords increasing their monthly rent.

Cap

This has resulted in many families paying rent far in excess of the current rent supplement cap imposed in their respective local authorities.

But guidelines set to be issued to all community welfare officers will demand that the rent allowance handed out to 74,000 people must for the first time take into account local market conditions.

This means that in areas where rent prices are soaring, the rent allowance paid out to families will increase, also to prevent them falling into debt or homelessness.

Community welfare officers will be urged to breach the current rent allowance caps in cases where tenants have seen their rents significantly increase.

The matter will be kept under review to ensure it is not taken advantage by landlords.

The new guidelines, spearheaded by Junior Minister for Social Protection Kevin Humphreys, will be sent to all community welfare officers today.

The guidelines say officers should be "cognisant of the local rental market in place" and willing to breach the current cap where deemed reasonable.

The news comes on the back of further government pledges on the issue of homelessness.

Local authorities across the country will be ordered to provide half of all allocations of social housing to people who are homeless or in vulnerable situations, according to Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

The Labour Party politician made the pledge as he announced a €25m plan to tackle emergency and short term homelessness.

Mr Kelly said that in the short term, every person will be given the option of being taken off the streets at Christmas.

"Everyone, particularly in urban areas, will have a bed for Christmas, if they so wish, if they want one. Some people don't take up that offer," he said.

Among the measures announced as part of the government's 20-point plan for the homeless are:

l The provision of 260 additional emergency beds for people sleeping rough in Dublin

l The opening of a night cafe in the capital designed to provide up to 50 people with fresh clothes and a meal

l The provision of a dedicated transport service for the homeless

l The use of a current hotel in Dublin to provide accommodation

Mr Kelly also said that local authorities will come under pressure to allocate 50pc of social housing to those in vulnerable situations.

hnews@herald.ie


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