The response to Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (DSGBV) is a cross-Departmental and multi-agency issue with overall policy coordinated by the Department of Justice. Responsibility for the development and provision of services to support victims rests with my colleague the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of DSGBV rests with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
My Department’s role is to support the work of local authorities and NGOs who provide accommodation support to victims of DSGBV, including capital funding support for the development of new refuges. Under Housing for All, the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) will continue to support the provision of new refuges.
In terms of social housing services, in 2017, my Department issued policy and procedural guidance to housing authorities relating to the role they can play to assist victims of domestic violence. The guidance is also a useful reference for service providers, highlighting where they can be of greatest assistance to their clients, covering a range of scenarios that may arise for victims of domestic violence currently in receipt of social housing support and those seeking social housing supports. These include provisions around the use of the Housing Assistance Payment scheme, or the Rental Accommodation Scheme, where a victim has a joint interest in the family home, or ownership of alternative accommodation, but would otherwise qualify for social housing support.
In addition, where a victim of domestic violence applies for social housing support in their own right while still a joint tenant, it is a matter for the relevant local authority to address the contractual issues arising in relation to the joint tenancy agreement. Accordingly, the household may transfer out of their existing tenancy and into a new tenancy agreement with the local authority or they may access an independent tenancy in the private rented sector utilising the various housing supports offered by the State.
The guidance was introduced with the objective of supporting a partnership approach by statutory agencies in respect of the delivery of domestic violence services, particularly in relation to helping to prevent and reduce the occurrence of related homelessness and facilitating the provision of long term accommodation for victims of domestic violence.
In addition to the above long-term supports, a new protocol was established in 2020 between the Department of Social Protection and Tusla, whereby a victim of domestic violence can apply for Rent Supplement, which is a short-term income support, on referral by Tusla or by Tusla-funded service providers. Where an application is made, Rent Supplement will be provided for an initial three months and will not require a means test. Further information is available at www.gov.ie/en/service/fb3b13-rent-supplement/ .