To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will report on the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment; the numbers of local authorities and households participating; and when the scheme will be extended to other areas such as County Galway – Seán Kyne.
Reply: Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly
The implementation of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a key Government priority and a major pillar of the Social Housing Strategy 2020 , which I published on 26 November 2014. The HAP scheme will bring all social housing supports provided by the State under the aegis of local authorities. The scheme will remove a barrier to employment by allowing recipients to remain in the scheme if they gain full-time employment. HAP will also improve regulation of the rented accommodation being supported and provide certainty for landlords as regards their rental income.
Further to the enactment of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 on 28 July 2014, the first phase of the HAP statutory pilot commenced with effect from 15 September 2014 in Limerick City and County Council, Waterford City and County Council and Cork County Council. HAP commenced in Louth, Kilkenny, South Dublin and Monaghan County Councils from 1 October. Subsequently, on 18 December, Dublin City Council became part of the statutory HAP pilot, with a specific focus on accommodating homeless households. Dublin City Council is implementing the HAP pilot for homeless households in the Dublin region on behalf of all 4 Dublin local authorities.
There are now over 1,500 households in receipt of HAP across the local authority areas taking part in the statutory pilot scheme.
During the legislation’s passage through the Oireachtas in July 2014 an undertaking was given that a report would be prepared for the relevant Oireachtas Committee. Data for this report is being gathered from pilot sites and a progress report will be submitted to the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht shortly. Based on data gathered for the review, consideration is currently being given to the sequencing of a further cohort of local authorities to commence HAP on an incremental basis this year. While no implementation date has yet been agreed, my Department is in contact with Galway City and County Councils in relation to their inclusion in the next phase of the HAP scheme .