Tenants paying informal top-ups to landlords on their rent supplement allowance are being urged to go to the Department of Social Protection to declare the actual payment of their rent.

The Assistant Secretary of the Department, who was before the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection, has assured tenants that there will be "no repercussions" for the payment.

Helen Vaughan said the "top-up position is a difficult one because it can be under the counter".

But she said when the "actual payment" is declared, the department will increase the rent supplement payment accordingly.

Ms Vaughan said the Department could not "turn a blind eye" and will need evidence and confirmation from the landlord regarding the exact rent the tenant is paying.

The top-up payments occur when the rent supplement allowance paid by the Department to private sector tenants dependent on social welfare, is insufficient to pay the rent.

While tenants are expected to pay up to €30 from their welfare payment towards the rent, they are not meant to contribute any more.

Ombudsman calls for urgent action on child homelessness

The Ombudsman for Children has called for urgent action to provide alternative accommodation for the 2,177 children who are homeless, living in hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and other shelters.

Niall Muldoon made the comments after a meeting with officials from the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government to discuss the forthcoming Housing Action Plan yesterday.

Speaking today on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Ombudsman said it is important we recognise the damage that is being done to children forced to live in temporary accommodation.

Mr Muldoon said we need to move away from the idea that hotels and B&Bs are an option for the homeless.

He said that in the UK such a move is a last resort and people do not tend to be accommodated in hotels or B&Bs for more than six weeks.

Mr Muldoon said plans need to be put in place to prevent families becoming homeless.

Currently, he said, local authorities cannot help families until they actually become homeless.

He added that when families do move out of temporary accommodation, they are moved into communities where they can grow and thrive.