Immediate rent payments for victims of domestic abuse granted

Those fleeing violence will not have to undergo means test for three months

The measure  follows recent Garda statistics showing the number of calls for help relating to domestic violence increased 25 per cent this year. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The measure follows recent Garda statistics showing the number of calls for help relating to domestic violence increased 25 per cent this year. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

Victims of domestic violence have been granted immediate access to rent supplement payments to help protect them from abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty said people at risk of abuse will be able to claim the payment without a means test for three months to ensure they are not prevented from leaving their home because of financial concerns.

The measure, which has been welcomed by service providers working with victims of domestic abuse, follows recent Garda statistics showing the number of calls for help relating to domestic violence increased 25 per cent this year while more than 100 people were charged in the last two weeks of May as part of a new crackdown on violence in the home.

The process of accessing the payment will be based on referrals from Tusla-funded services. Referrals from An Garda Síochána and the HSE will also be accepted.

After the three-month period, a further three-month extension may be provided, subject to a means assessment. After six months, if the tenant has a long term housing need, they can apply to their local housing authority for social housing supports and, if eligible, will be able to access housing assistance payments (HAP).

Removes entrapment

Covid-19 restrictions on movement and the increased confinement of many people to their homes has brought the issue of domestic abuse into “stark relief” Ms Doherty said.

“I am determined that no one should suffer additional trauma during the current health emergency,” she said.

“For that reason, I am introducing a relaxation of the means-test normally required to qualify for Rent Supplement – support with deposit payments and rent costs – for an initial three months for victims of domestic violence. After three months, the individual’s ongoing entitlement will be reviewed based on the normal means-test for the scheme.”

Mary McDermott co-chief executive of Safe Ireland, a coalition of 38 refuge and support services which had sought the measure, said access to rent supplement “directly removes the entrapment” victims experience.

“This support will enable women and children fleeing violent partners to be sheltered quickly and safely regardless of their circumstances and directly addresses, in particular, the financial abuse which pervades many abusive relationships.”