Case Studies » Supplementary Welfare Allowance » Supplementary Welfare Allowance (Rent) - from Annual Report 2015 (ref: 2015/18)
Background: Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, a Rent Supplement may be paid where a person is paying rent which is within the limit set out in social welfare legislation. The limit varies according to the area in which the person lives and the number of people sharing the accommodation. The appellant was in receipt of Rent Supplement which had been calculated with reference to the maximum rent limit (cap) which applied in respect of a single person living in that area. He applied for an increase and sought to have the supplement calculated with reference to a higher limit which would take account of the need for him to have access to his children. The application was refused as the higher rent was deemed to be in excess of the maximum rent limit which applied.
Oral hearing: The appellant reported that he had been living at his current address for four years, a two bedroomed apartment that was not in the best condition. He said that as he would help occasionally with maintenance, the landlord had allowed him to pay rent at the rate of Rent Supplement he received as a single person. He reported that the landlord was selling the apartment and he had wanted to move. He confirmed that he had applied for Rent Supplement in respect of accommodation for himself and his children. He advised that he had not moved to any new property as he did not have the money and was currently residing with a friend. He said that he wanted accommodation for himself and his three children and he considered that a two bedroom property would suffice. He said that currently any accommodation was difficult to source in the urban area where he was living, as a lot of what was available was very expensive and/or landlords would not take persons who wished to avail of Rent Supplement.
The appellant reported that his ex-wife and their children continued to live in the local authority accommodation which had been the family home. He said he had been seeking custody and access to the children for years and had been granted access as follows:
Week 1 – Friday after school to Sunday at 5.00 p.m., Tuesday after school to 7.30 p.m.
Week 2 – Wednesday after school until Friday morning.
The appellant reported that prior to these access arrangements being drawn up, the children would visit. He advised that he had been due to attend court two months earlier regarding custody. However, as he did not have accommodation, he did not attend. He said that his ex-wife’s solicitor had indicated that the matter will be brought before the court again as he is failing to abide by the access agreement. He said that he would forward evidence to this effect (and this was submitted subsequently).
Consideration: The Appeals Officer noted that the appellant had pursued custody of his children through the courts and that access had been granted as outlined above, and confirmed by way of Court Order. She noted that the appellant was not able to adhere to this arrangement due to unsuitable accommodation. Based on all the evidence, she determined that the maximum rent limit which should apply in the appellant’s case was one that takes cognisance of his children’s needs.
Outcome: Appeal allowed.