Housing charity Focus Ireland has claimed that cuts to rent supplement by successive Governments are contributing to homelessness.

It has challenged a statement by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton that homelessness would not increase because of changes to rules governing the payment.

A report into the impact of changes to the rent supplement says the successive Government policy of reducing the maximum payment to force rents down is failing.

Over 97,000 households relied on Rent Supplement in 2010.

The charity has said that cuts to the payment have acted to trap people into long-term homelessness by making it difficult for them to secure rented accommodation.