Social Welfare Appeal G0063

Year: 2014

Type of Social Welfare: Rent Supplement

Deciding Body: Chief Appeals Officer

This case relates to the effective date of award of the Appellant’s Rent Supplement payment. The Appellant applied for Rent Supplement in August 2009. The Appellant claimed that she made an application to the Local Authority for a housing needs assessment at the same time, but the Local Authority did not register the Application until 19th October 2009. On the 8th March 2010 the Local Authority confirmed in writing that the Appellant was in need of, and eligible for, social housing, and they also advised that the assessment process had been completed on the 22nd January 2010.  Rent Supplement was awarded from the Local Authority assessment completion date, 22nd January 2010, not the date of the application for Rent Supplement, or the date of application for a housing needs assessment (August/October 2009). As a consequence, the Appellant incurred significant rent arrears.  The Appellant appealed this decision seeking arrears of Rent Supplement from the date of her application.

The Appeals Officer rejected the appeal on 8th May 2012 for the reason that under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme, Rent Supplement may be paid where a person is certified as having a housing need by the Local Authority, and as the Appellant’s housing assessment was not complete until 22nd January 2010, she was not entitled to the payment prior to that date. On 2nd July 2014, Kerry MABS on behalf of the Appellant requested a review of the Appeals Officer’s decision in accordance with section 318 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, asserting that the Appeals Officer had made a mistake in the facts and the law as he failed to consider that the Appellant’s housing need may be regarded as having commenced at the time of her application.

Kerry MABS asserted that section 198 [3F] [a] of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 [as amended] does not preclude the award of Rent Supplement from the date of application for a housing needs assessment, and furthermore the wide positive discretion afforded to a Designated Officer arguably compels the award of assistance where a prima facie need exists. It was asserted that the effect of the Appeals Officer’s decision presented as being at odds with the facts and the objective intent of the statute; namely, that a person has sufficient means to meet their basic needs, including rental costs.

The Appeals Officer reviewed his decision and on 28th July 2014 he issued a revised decision, finding that the Appeal should be allowed taking into account all of the circumstances of the case.  As the Appeals Officer made a revised determination in this case, the Chief Appeals Officer did not have to address the matter under section 318 of the Act.