Government urged to distance itself from claim some homeless people could be 'gaming the system'

The remarks were made by outgoing Housing Agency boss, Conor Skehen

Government urged to distance itself from claim some homeless people could be 'gaming the system'

Leinster House. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Government is being urged to distance itself from claims that some homeless people could be 'gaming the system' to get housing.

Outgoing housing agency boss, Conor Skehan, told The Irish Times that people could be declaring themselves homeless to skip the queue for the housing list.

He claimed: “We unwittingly created a problem by prioritising self-declared homelessness above all other types of housing need, which created a distortion in the waiting list system and may have encouraged people to game the system.”

He suggested that it could be gauged by measuring if there had been a “notable change in composition” of people presenting as homeless in recent years.

Sinn Féin said no evidence has been offered to support "this spurious claim".

The party's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin argued: "For the chair of the Housing Agency to claim that some families in emergency accommodation are 'gaming the system' is not only deeply regrettable but not based on any evidence whatsoever.

"Given that the body he chairs was set up to provide government with evidence based policy advice today's comments are very concerning."

Fianna Fail's housing spokesperson Barry Cowen says the claim is 'crude and insensitive'.

He observed: "I'm completely disgusted by [the] comments, and I think [Mr Skehan] should be more focused on delivery.

"I would hope that the Government would distance itself from these comments. Our patience is wearing thin in relation to the way in which this whole area is being handled by Government - [their plan] is unfortunately not working to date."