A CORK city councillor has called for an increase in Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) support for the most vulnerable in the housing market in the wake of a report that showed there were no properties to rent in areas of Cork city centre and Cork city suburbs within HAP limits last month.
Labour councillor for the city's North East ward John Maher said his party has consistently called for an increase in HAP, but that it is now "long past time to increase payments made to those availing of the HAP scheme who are struggling".
"HAP limits have not been revised since 2016, yet we have seen rents increase in Cork by more than 10% in the last year alone.
"The discretionary HAP rate is currently limited to 20% outside of the capital but that needs to rise to 50% as it currently is in Dublin," Mr Maher said.
He pointed to the Simon Communities of Ireland’s quarterlyreport published last week which revealed that there were no properties available to rent in any household category within standard or discretionary HAP limits in Cork city centre and Cork city suburbs last month.
"That is frightening and is only going to get worse.
"There are many low to middle income earners in Cork who need the HAP scheme as they are in the high rent private rental accommodation with no security.
"The scheme was designed to allow people to access the private rental sector but now that rents have skyrocketed, it isn't working for people anymore," he said.
Mr Maher said that too many people in Cork "are having to decide whether to put food on the table or heat their home" and that the Government must commit to an increase in HAP in line with inflation, taking into account the average cost of renting in Ireland today.