A SINGLE mother of two young children is facing the prospect of moving to a homeless shelter after cuts to her rent supplement means she can no longer afford to pay for her rented accommodation.
Claire Doyle (23), from Clondalkin, said she has fallen foul of the Government’s introduction of the Rent Supplement Review that was announced in last year’s budget.
The review, put forward by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, intends to supply short-term income support to people who are renting non-State owned accommodation but whose income is not enough to meet the rental costs.
However, Ms Doyle, who has a one-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, said her rent was cut after she informed her local welfare officer that she was receiving maintenance payments of €45 per week for her two young children.
“I can’t believe it’s come to this,” Ms Doyle told Southside People.
“I’m devastated. I can’t sleep or barely eat over it all. I’ve had to make an appointment with my doctor to see can I get sleeping tablets because I’m finding it so hard to sleep. I’m struggling to pay my bills and feed the children as it is so there’s no way I can pay the rest of the rent money.”
She explained how she had to contact Focus Ireland - a charity that supports those facing homelessness - to see if there was any way she could avoid going to a homeless shelter.
However, the only solution is cheaper accommodation, but Ms Doyle said she would not be able to meet even these reduced costs due to the cuts to her rent allowance.
She explained how she has been served a notice to quit the premises by her landlord and will be homeless from the end of August.
However, she said she takes no issue with her landlord, as she believes he is within his right to maintain the current rental fee for the property.
“I don’t have a problem with the landlord as this is not his problem,” she stated. “I was able to afford the rent until it was cut. My son is supposed to be starting school in September. I’ve managed to get his uniform and all his things in, but how am I supposed to get him to school every morning from a homeless shelter in town? I don’t want my kids to have to live in a shelter, but I don’t know what else I can do.”
Ms Doyle said she can’t return to her mother’s home because there are currently nine people residing there.
“The house would be too overcrowded, so I can’t even go back there,” she said. “It looks like the only option I have is to go homeless. I’ve contacted South Dublin County Council but there doesn’t seem to be anything they can do. I’ve been on the housing list for three years now for permanent accommodation, but there’s been nothing yet.”
Sinn Fein’s Dublin Mid-West representative, Eoin Ó Broin, who is seeking to highlight Ms Doyle’s case, has described the situation as “absolutely disgraceful”.
“Rent supplement is meant to assist people unable to meet the full cost of their rent in the private sector,” he said. “That a rent review should result in a young family being forced out onto the street or into homeless accommodation is absolutely disgraceful. It also makes no financial sense as the cost of emergency accommodation for a family will be significantly higher than the original rent supplement payment.”
“This is not the first case of significant payment reductions following rent supplement reviews that I have come across,” he added. “In recent months it has become increasingly common. The Department of Social Protection is clearly intent on reducing its spending on this area irrespective of the costs to families. It is simply unacceptable that a benefit designed to keep people out of homelessness is having the opposite effect," he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection said they could not comment on individual cases.
Last year, there were 96,800 recipients of rent supplement with a total expenditure on the scheme of €503 million. At the end of June 2012 there were 92,200 recipients with €436 million provided for this year.
“Budget 2012 provided for reductions in the rate of payment for all rent supplement recipients due to increases in the minimum contribution payable by tenants and adjustments to the maximum rent limits,” a spokesperson stated.
The spokesperson said the minimum contribution payable by all rent supplement tenants was increased by a minimum of €6 from €24 to €30 per week.
This reduction was applied to all customers from January 2012.
The spokesperson added that department officials administering rent supplement would continue to ensure that the rent supplement recipients’ accommodation needs are met.
The spokesperson said homelessness should not occur as a result of changes to a person's rent.