The application process for local council housing is being toughened- to stamp out people who are temporarily giving up work to get on the housing list.
The changes were explained at this morning’s meeting of the Castlecomer Municipal District, introducing a national policy which now demands that applicants give a fuller account of their income over the past 12 months.
Previously, those applying for social housing had to give a much shorter and more recent summary of their income.
Michael Leahy, the Senior Executive Officer of Kilkenny County Council’s Housing Department, says that wasn’t necessarily the best indicator of someone’s eligibility.
“The main changes that were introduced last month, that came into force on April 19th, are in relation to the household means policy in the overall assessment of social housing” he explained to KCLR News. “That policy is a basic measure of eligibility for social housing, and the changes there are related to evidence of income provided by the applicant. Previously, applicants would submit their most recent pay slips, usually four to six slips, showing their current income, whereas now the local authority will be looking at their income over the entire previous 12 months when they apply, and their eligibility is calculated based on an average of that income. So it does put a bit more onus on the applicant to provide [proof of income] for the previous 12 months, but it will give the local authority a more accurate reflection of the person’s income to see whether they should qualify for social housing”
Michael told Castlecomer councillors this morning (Monday) that the old policy allowed some applicants to skew the income records they presented to the Council, by deliberately giving up work and waiving their pay cheque for whatever limited window of time the local authority were assessing.
This meant many were being added to social housing lists nationwide that didn’t truly have an income low enough to justify it.
Mr Leahy says this new practice will put an end to such a trend.
“It’s maybe not happening so much locally, but this is a national policy” he says. “People do give up their employment to qualify for the housing list, so this eliminates that, because now their eligibility [for social housing] is based over the full previous twelve months.”