Scheme to allow welfare recipients keep benefits while earning €14k not restricted to refugees

Scheme to allow welfare recipients keep benefits while earning €14k not restricted to refugees

A refugee from Ukraine waits in the ticket hall of the railway station in Przemysl, eastern Poland, last month. The number of people arriving into Ireland fell significantly over the Easter holidays but the Cabinet was told that the number is beginning to climb again. Photo: Wojtek Radwanski/AFP

A scheme to allow welfare recipients to earn up to €14,000 without impacting their benefits is not restricted to Ukrainian refugees, Minister Heather Humphreys has said.

Announcing the scheme which will allow people on welfare to take people into their homes, Ms Humphreys made clear the 12-month scheme is not limited to refugees fleeing the war. It is clear the influx of refugees from Ukraine has added an urgency to the search for all forms of accommodation in the State.

Following the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, a Government spokesman said that the total number of arrivals into the country stood at 30,343 with a total of 21,277 seeking accommodation from the State.

The number of people arriving into the country fell significantly over the Easter holidays but the Cabinet was told that the number is beginning to climb again, peaking in the last week at 421 arrivals on May 11. More than 900 people have been placed in 313 pledged properties nationwide, the spokesman said.

“We are not going to categorise it,” Ms Humphreys said at a launch in Dublin. “This applies across the board. We're going to do it on a basis of 12 months and I’ll review it after that, but I'll be sending the regulations very shortly."

The regulations will put in place a new Social Welfare Means Disregard of up to €14,000 per annum, in respect of those who rent a room in their home.

This is in line with the Rent a Room Relief Scheme, which has been in operation for years by the Revenue Commissioners.

In practice, this means that a social welfare recipient will be able to rent out a room in their home for up to €14,000 per annum and will not see their means-tested social welfare payment impacted, including the Fuel Allowance or the Household Benefits Package.

Furthermore, Ms Humphreys is introducing changes relating to those who receive the Living Alone Allowance. As a result of this change, if a person living alone provides a room in their home, they will not see their Living Alone Allowance affected.

This is particularly important in light of the challenges posed by the crisis in Ukraine and is part of the Government’s overall response, the minister said today. There are currently 209,000 people receiving the Living Alone Allowance.

Mis Humphreys said: “For many months now, my officials and I have been working on proposals to remove barriers facing people in receipt of a social welfare payment who wish to provide accommodation in their home. There’s no doubt the war in Ukraine has brought a new urgency to this situation. 

But these measures also reflect our overriding desire to ensure rooms that are available in homes across the country are freed up for potential tenants. 

"Where there are barriers or anomalies in place, it is up to us to remove them," she said.

The vast majority of those who have arrived have been accommodated in hotels, but in more recent weeks, emergency and group accommodation has been used.

It is now expected that between 31,000 and 33,000 people will have sought accommodation in the State by the end of June.

Serviced and emergency accommodation is currently at 80% capacity, and the Government estimates that while there will be no shortage of accommodation at the end of next month, all types of housing will be nearing capacity.

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