Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Questions (907, 912, 913, 914, 920, 921, 924, 931, 965, 986, 1015)

Holly Cairns

Question:

907. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to a response during Leaders' Questions on 30 April 2020, if short-term emergency rent supplement will be progressed which would enable women and children in need of immediate relocation due to domestic violence to access safe housing for a period of three months and-or the duration of the Covid-19 national emergency. [7048/20]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

912. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a short-term emergency rent type supplement will be put in place which would enable women and children in need of immediate relocation due to domestic violence to access safe housing for a period of three months and-or the duration of the Covid-19 national emergency. [7154/20]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

913. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if short-term emergency rent supplement which would enable women and children in need of immediate relocation due to domestic violence to access safe housing for a period of three months and-or the duration of the Covid-19 national emergency will be progressed arising from a statement to Dáil Éireann on 30 April 2020. [7155/20]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

914. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the fact that women and children fleeing domestic violence are homeless (details supplied). [7423/20]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

920. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will provide a short-term emergency rent supplement for women and children who are forced to relocate due to domestic violence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7934/20]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

921. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if relevant Departments will be directed to urgently provide for a short-term emergency rent supplement for women and children who are forced to relocate due to domestic violence. [7935/20]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

924. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will put in place a short-term emergency rent supplement which would enable women and children in need of immediate relocation due to domestic violence to access safe housing for a period of three months and-or the duration of the Covid-19 national emergency as the Minister with responsibility for the coordination of the emergency Covid-19 response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence [8206/20]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

931. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will reconsider her decision not to facilitate access to emergency rent supplement which would enable women and children in need of immediate relocation due to domestic violence to secure safe housing for a period of three months and-or the duration of the Covid-19 national emergency. [7151/20]

View answer

Marian Harkin

Question:

965. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will reconsider allowing access to emergency rent supplement to those in need of immediate relocation as a result of domestic violence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7691/20]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

986. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department will provide emergency rent supplement to women and children who are forced to relocate due to domestic violence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7931/20]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

1015. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will reconsider her decision not to facilitate access to emergency rent supplement which would enable women and children in need of immediate relocation due to domestic violence to secure safe housing for a period of three months and-or the duration of the Covid-19 national emergency. [8202/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 907, 912 to 914, inclusive, 920, 921, 924, 931, 965, 986 and 1015 together.

Responsibility for the development and provision of services to support victims of domestic violence rests with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The co-ordination of the services addressing the needs of these customers is managed by The Child and Family Agency, Tusla. Victims of domestic violence accommodation needs are met through this joined-up service delivery model provided by Tusla with the close involvement of the various housing authorities nationwide.

A housing authority can provide, on a humanitarian basis, short-term emergency housing to persons who are unable to return to their homes because of domestic violence without having to assess their eligibility for social housing support or include them on the authority’s waiting list for housing supports.

Generally, where a victim is not seeking to return to the family home, a social housing assessment by the housing authority is the appropriate response. Assessments should be conducted in a timely manner to ensure that victims do not end up residing in emergency accommodation, including refuge facilities, for long periods of time. Once a customer has successfully completed a housing needs assessment, they can then apply for HAP.

As part of this response, Tusla funds and supports over 40 organisations providing support services to victims of domestic violence, including 20 refuges providing safe specialist emergency domestic violence accommodation. Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Services, and in particular, Domestic Violence refuges have been identified as one of Tusla’s three highest priority services in its crisis management responses to the period of Covid-19 public health measures. A range of supports have been put in place to assure continuity of essential services and there is ongoing systematic engagement between Tusla and service provider organisations around emerging needs.

Since the introduction of HAP, Rent Supplement continues to revert to original role of providing short-term support to those who have become temporarily unemployed and require income support to meet their tenancy cost whilst they seek alternative employment. Rent supplement, by virtue of its short-term nature and its targeted customer cohort, is not considered the principal solution in meeting the accommodation needs of those fleeing domestic or sexual violence, in particular where, following a Housing Needs Assessment, HAP is an available option.

There are no indications within my Department that the rent supplement scheme is operating in a way that is preventing victims of domestic violence from getting the support they need, and Community Welfare Officers are using the full flexibility of the scheme to assist those in need during the current crisis.

As I have already indicated, I support the call for additional supports to be made available to victims of domestic violence during the current pandemic. Officials from my Department are engaging with SAFE Ireland representatives to explore their proposal and discussions are on-going to ensure that appropriate supports are provided to victims of domestic violence to access short term emergency accommodation during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Following an initial positive meeting, a follow-up meeting is scheduled for later this week to progress the issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.