Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea has criticised the decision by the Minister for Social Protection not to increase rent supplement to struggling families and individuals, despite the spiralling cost of rent increases in the last year.

Deputy O’Dea said: “This is a disgraceful decision by the government and a complete abandonment of people in serious need.  The Government is unwilling to raise maximum rent supplement payments, despite clear evidence that limits are too low for people to secure accommodation. The limits on rent supplement are exacerbating homelessness problem which will reach crisis point again in the coming months unless rent supplement limits are raised.”

The latest PRTB report has shown that the cost of renting is continuing to rise, with an increase of 5.8% in rents nationally over the course of 2014, this follows a 3% increase in 2013. Rent for houses was up 4.8% and apartment rents were up by up 6.4%. Rental Prices in Dublin especially are at the peak levels of 2007. In Dublin rents have risen by 9.6% with house rents up by 7% and apartments higher again and up by 10.9%.

Deputy O’Dea added: “’Rent supplement is simply too low for people to find accommodation, especially in Dublin.  The maximum rent supplement for a family of four is capped at €975 and people are unable to pay anything above this to secure accommodation. However, according to the PRTB the average cost of a small two bed dwelling anywhere in Dublin is upwards of €1130. This gap makes it virtually impossible for many individuals or families to rent suitable accommodation and is accelerating the homeless crisis.

“Many families are being forced into homelessness. With the decision not to allow an increase in supplement thresholds, Joan Burton and the Labour Party are shamelessly perpetuating the mindless situation where these families are being placed in emergency hotel accommodation at an enormous cost to the state, rather than allowing them a marginal rise in their rent support.

“The gap between rent support and actual rents is preventing both individuals and families who have lost their homes, from moving out of homelessness as they cannot afford the rent. This year has seen the lowest ever recorded number of individuals moving out of homelessness into the private rented sector, which is a direct result of the mismatch between rents and supplement levels.”