HAP rates need to be reviewed

The Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, needs to review HAP rates across the state. Figures show that over 70% of those on HAP are in receipt of the maximum top-up of 20% in Mayo. This is the second highest rate in the country with only Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown local area in South Dublin coming in higher.

There are a number of key issues here. HAP rates are particularly low for single people and this has long been raised as an issue. It is near impossible to rent a property within the HAP limits as a single person in this state.

The other HAP rates clearly need to be reviewed. Currently, there are 1345 people on HAP in Mayo (this doesn’t include those on homeless HAP). Of these, 85% are in receipt of a discretionary top-up. 82% of these are in receipt of the maximum top-up of 20%. This shows that the HAP rates are not reflective of the rental market currently.

We need to see a real ban on rent increases. We need to see a full roll-out of Homeless HAP because currently this only operates in Dublin but there are homeless people across the state.

The Minister’s announcement that he was to build 400 cost rental properties this year clearly falls short when we look at the number of people in receipt of HAP.

According to the Daft Q4 2020 report, the average rent in Mayo is 762 euro a month and rising. With the maximum HAP limit for a family with three children of 520 euro, a 20% top-up doesn’t begin to cover the rent needed. We know people are paying cash top-ups and that this is putting them under serious financial strain.

Minister Darragh O’Brien has in the past agreed that these limits need to be reviewed and that they are not meeting the needs of people. It’s time for him to start acting on his promises.