A Kerry County Councillor says the council should call on the Minister for Housing to increase the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
At the recent Kenmare Municipal District meeting, a motion by Cllr Michael Cahill called on the council to request an increase to the HAP for tenants.
Housing Assistance Payment or HAP is a form of social housing support for people with a long-term housing need, whereby the council pays the landlord directly, and the tenant makes a contribution to the council.
Cllr Cahill says tenants have to give top ups to landlords each month as state payments fall far below rental costs.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor claimed almost half of all tenants struggle to pay bills, groceries, or cover childcare and school costs.
Fellow Fianna Fáil Councillor Norma Moriarty added this begins a vicious cycle, as parents must decide whether to heat their homes or feed their kids.
She added houses are not looked after as a result, which also hurts the landlords.
In its reply to Cllr Cahill's motion, Kerry County Council provided details on the current numbers in receipt of HAP in the county.
There was a 30% increase in the number of active HAP tenancies in Kerry last year, from 1,236 at the end of 2019 to 1,623 at the end of 2020.
The highest rate of HAP allowed in Kerry is €575 per month, which is available to an adult or couple with 3 children.
Tenants may also apply for a 20% top up if they're struggling to pay rent.
According to Kerry County Council, just under half of all active HAP tenancies in Kerry also receive the full 20% top up.