Access to rent supplement for victims of domestic violence is due to expire at the end of 2021, and the recent signal from Government that the protocol will be made a permanent offering is very welcome, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
The scheme ensures that victims of domestic violence who have been referred from the Gardaí, the HSE, Tusla, or Tusla-funded services can get immediate access to rent supplement, which they are entitled to receive for three months without being means-tested.
Leader of Seanad Éireann, Senator Regina Doherty, said, “As Minister for Social Protection, I introduced changes to make rent supplement easily and immediately available for victims of domestic violence back in June 2020. I am now calling on the Government to build on recent commitments and ensure that these changes are made permanent.
“I introduced the relaxation of the means-test normally required to qualify for rent supplement to help those trapped in unsafe and abusive domestic situations during the pandemic. Without support from Safe Ireland and former Minister Charlie Flanagan, we wouldn’t have been able to get this over the line. This measure has definitely been one of the most positive policy changes to arise from the pandemic.
“While instances of domestic violence rose throughout the lockdowns, we know that unfortunately such abuse will continue long past the pandemic. No matter when it happens, those that find themselves in dangerous and volatile domestic relationships must be able to access financial support to enable them to leave their homes and find safe and secure accommodation.
“Victims of domestic violence require a range of supports; many often need a friend or family member to help them, while others can require professional emotional support. However, financial aid which is easily and immediately accessible is one very important and practical support that the State must continue to offer victims.
“Many victims might not be aware that they can avail of rent supplement, and that for the first three months they will receive it without being means-tested. We need to get the message out there loud and clear – if your home is unsafe, there are supports available that will help you leave your situation and access safety, regardless of your financial situation.
“Minister Heather Humphreys has recently signalled her intention to make the rent supports a permanent policy, which I very much welcome. We need to see this put in place as soon as possible to ensure that all those who require access to rent supplement to reach safety will be able to receive it easily and with the urgency that these situations often require,” Senator Doherty concluded.