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Domestic violence victims given access to Rent Supplement without a means test

The government announced the changes to the eligibility for the payment today.

Image: Shutterstock/Shaynepplstockphoto

VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC violence will now be able to access Rent Supplement without a means test.

Under changes announced by the Department of Social Protection, victims of domestic violence can get immediate access to Rent Supplement for a three-month period to ensure they are not prevented from leaving their home because of financial concerns.

The scheme is a means-tested welfare subsidy for those living in private rented accommodation, who cannot afford to pay their rent because of a substantial change in their circumstances.

It differs from the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), which is the payment made to those qualified for social housing support and on the local authority’s housing list.

The department announced today that the usual Rent Supplement means test will not apply during the three-month period after domestic violence victims leave their homes.

After that, a further three-month extension may be provided, subject to the usual Rent Supplement means assessment.

If a tenant has a long-term housing need after six months, they can then apply to their local housing authority for social housing supports and, if eligible, will be able to access HAP.

Garda statistics show that the number of calls for help relating to domestic violence increased by 25% 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.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said the current restriction on movement and the increased confinement of many people to their homes “has brought the issue of domestic abuse into stark relief”.

“As a long-time advocate on behalf of those who suffer from such abuse, I am determined that no-one should suffer additional trauma during the current health emergency,” she said.

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Co-chief executive of domestic violence charity Safe Ireland Mary McDermott said the new supports will particularly help women experiencing financial abuse.

“The new measures 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.”

The Women’s Aid 24-hour national freephone helpline is available on 1800 341 900. 

The organisation also has useful information on its website here about safety planning and guidance for family and friends when supporting a loved one affected by abuse. 

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