Minister Regina Doherty
MORE than €3m has been spent by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on hotels and B & B accommodation for homeless people in Limerick over the past five years, it has been revealed.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show more than half of the money which has been spent locally since 2013 was spent last year as the number of homeless people continues to grow.
The figures which were released to Live 95FM news by the department show a total of €1,615,904 was paid out in Exceptional Needs Payments (ENP) to 285 recipients during 2017.
This compares to €381,239 to 123 recipients in 2016; €119,488 to 94 recipients in 2015; €66,802 to 90 recipients in 2014 and €30,580 to 76 recipients in 2013.
As of the end of February, €130,035 had been paid in relation to 78 claimants so far in 2018 – the equivalent of more than €1,350 every day.
The figures show that monthly ENP payments in Limerick last year ranged from €27,984 in January to a high of €210,925 in September.
According to the department, the lowest monthly figure of €380 was recorded in July 2013.
In its response to the FOI request, the department stated: “Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may make a singe Exceptional Needs Payment to help meet essential once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonable be expected to meet out of their weekly income.”
It declined to provide specific details of payments to individual hotels or B&B premises under the scheme.
Reacting to the figures, Ger Spillane of housing body Focus Ireland says the amount of money being paid out by the department is a concern.
“The amount of money that is being spent on hotel and B&B accommodation could be a lot better spent and I think it could be considered dead money because there is no comeback on this money, there is no societal benefit, there is no benefit to the family and there is no benefit for the tax-payer,” he said.
The ENP figures do not relate to those on the local authority housing list.