SINN FÉIN TD for Carlow/ Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has called on the government to do more to promote the availability of rent supplement for renters who may be struggling to meet rental costs.
The call came as figures showed that the Covid-19 rent supplement payments have increased by 33% since March, with 6,500 claims in payment.
Teachta Funchion told The Observer: “As of March 11. 2020, 15,264 households were in receipt of Rent Supplement from the Department of Social Protection.
“As of May 25, that figure has risen to 20,400, an increase of 33%.
“There are now 6,500 Covid-19 rent supplement claims in payment.
“In my own constituency of Carlow/ Kilkenny there are 102 in receipt of the Covid-19 rent supplement with a further 19 claims pending.
“Across the State there are 1,900 claims pending which if granted, would mean an increase in those claiming rent supplement during the first three months of the pandemic to 42%.
“The Department of Social Protection has been very slow to promote the availability of rent supplement and to communicate the revised criteria for applications.
“Initial responses from the renters’ survey Sinn Féin launched last Friday indicated that many renters were unaware of the availability of this payment despite being worried about accumulating debt.
“The government must work with all parties, and representatives of tenants and landlords to come up with a rent arrears debt resolution process post-Covid-19 that does not heap the full burden of that debt on the shoulders of struggling families.”