Responsibility for the development and provision of services to support victims of domestic violence is a cross government body of work involving Department of Justice, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) and associated agencies. The co-ordination of the services addressing the needs of these customers is managed by The Child and Family Agency, Tusla. The accommodation needs of victims of domestic violence are met through this joined-up service delivery model provided by Tusla with the close involvement of the various housing authorities nationwide.
In August 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, I agreed to make rent supplement more accessible to victims of domestic violence. This has ensured that victims of domestic violence are not prevented from leaving their home because of financial or accommodation difficulties.
For victims of domestic violence the measure provides that the standard rent supplement means test does not apply for an initial three month period. After the initial three-month period, a further three-month extension may be provided, subject to the usual rent supplement 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 the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), a social housing support provided by Local Authorities.
Access to rent supplement is additional and complementary to, and not a substitution for, the range of other supports already in place for victims of domestic violence.
Following a review of the measure after twelve months of operation involving all key stakeholders, I recently announced that victims of domestic violence will be granted easier access to rent supplement on a permanent basis. This ensures that victims of domestic violence can continue to get immediate access to rent supplement for a three month period to ensure that they are not prevented from leaving their home because of financial concerns.
There are 40 victims of domestic violence currently being supported under the Protocol, with 153 cases supported since the Protocol came into operation in August 2020. I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.