Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Barry Cowen TD has called for reform of the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) Scheme. The scheme is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need.

Deputy Cowen said, “There has been much discussion in recent days regarding the HAP scheme and who should have access to it. However what has been missed in this debate is the fact that the HAP scheme is fundamentally flawed in its design and needs to be reformed.

“Currently families who accept HAP are forced off the social housing waiting list, and are instead placed on the housing transfer list. In effect this means that most families who accept HAP are unlikely to be allocated a permanent home. This is a fundamental flaw in the scheme as it forces families to accept temporary rental accommodation while forgoing being moved to a permanent home.

“I firmly believe that there is no good reason for HAP recipients to be removed from the social housing waiting list. The current design of HAP is discouraging families in need of a home from using the scheme. It seems the main reason for designing the scheme in this manner was to make the housing list statistics appear less severe.

“I also believe that the issuing of confidential information regarding people who are offered HAP is a worrying development which must be investigated. It’s simply unacceptable to leak such confidential information for political gain.”