Stephen wrote to the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, to highlight the inconsistencies in rent supplement levels in North Wicklow, and to ask her to raise the levels in Kilcoole, Newtownmountkennedy and Newcastle to the level applying in Bray, Greystones and Delgany. The letter follows below.
I write to ask you to reconsider your decision that rent supplement levels for the villages of Kilcoole, Newtownmountkennedy and Newcastle in North Wicklow should be fixed to the County Wicklow level rather than the level for Bray, Delgany and Greystones.
I fully appreciate that you are operating under greatly reduced resources and that the objective of the rent review was to lower expenditure on rent supplement. However, the number of rent supplement cases in these villages is tiny. Raising the rent supplement level applying would have no appreciable impact on the rent supplement budget, but would greatly improve the quality of life of the families concerned.
The reasons for including Kilcoole, Newtownmountkennedy and Newcastle with Greystones and Delgany are as follows:
- Kilcoole is just 3km from Greystones, Newtownmountkennedy just 8km, and Newcastle 9km. They are part of the same suburban sprawl, effectively part of the commuter belt of greater Dublin.
- Rental prices in Kilcoole, Newtownmountkennedy and Newcastle reflect the Bray/Delgany/Greystones market, rather than the rest of the county.*
- Kilcoole and Greystones are so closely intertwined that there is currently a debate over whether the area of Charlesland, which is currently in Greystones, could be redesignated as part of Kilcoole.
- Wicklow County Council is currently considering preparing a joint Local Area Plan for Greystones/Delgany and Kilcoole. The Council’s justification for this follows:
“The settlements of Greystones-Delgany and Kilcoole share considerable links. This is due largely to their locations in close proximity to each other and to the sharing of services and infrastructure between the settlements, including community, recreational and retail services and shared transportation and water services infrastructure.” (From the Public Consultation Issues Booklet issued by Wicklow County Council)
It is likely that those who are forced by this review to seek accommodation elsewhere will move to the Bray/Greystones area, where the higher rent levels currently maintain, rather than further south in the county. The result, therefore, would be no saving for the Department.
I believe there may be a concern amongst officials that they will come under pressure to extend the higher limits ever further south in the county, beyond Newcastle. Based on my research and on contacts with constituents, I don’t believe this to be justified. My office has dealt with a number of people faced with having to leave their homes, but none from other areas subject to the lower Wicklow limits.
Many thanks for your consideration.
* An indicative survey of properties available for rent on Daft.ie on June 20 found the following average rents for a 3 bed property:
|Area||Average rent €||Number of properties avail|