Victims of domestic violence will be granted easier access to rent supplement on a permanent basis following a decision by the Minister for Social Protection.

It follows a review by Minister Heather Humphreys of a protocol, which was established during the pandemic, where means testing did not apply to domestic violence victims for a three-month period.

Last August, in response to the pandemic, the minister announced that victims of domestic violence could access rent supplement without a means test.

Ms Humphreys made the decision after Safe Ireland and similar groups raised concerns over an increased risk for victims due to the limited availability of alternative accommodation and reduced capacity in refuges.

A protocol was established between the Department of Social Protection and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

This meant that where an application was made on referral by Tusla or by Tusla-funded service providers, rent supplement was provided for an initial three-month period and the usual means test did not apply.

In all, 144 victims of domestic violence availed of the rent supplement measure between August last year and September 2021.

Minister Humphreys has decided that the three-month flexibility will now apply on a permanent basis - ensuring that victims are not prevented from leaving their homes because of financial concerns.

Safe Ireland has welcomed the announcement by the Minister.

Policy and Communications Manager Miriam Kivlehan has described the scheme as "a life-saving measure"

She said it was "hugely significant" particularly for counties spanning the border and midlands regions where there is no refuge for victims from domestic violence.