Planning and Housing

13.05.19

Councils to be placed under legal duty to house victims of domestic abuse

Councils are to be given a legal duty to provide “safe houses” for victims of domestic abuse and their children, under new plans announced by the prime minister.

Theresa May announced the new policy, backed by government funding to be provided to local authorities, in order to end the “postcode lottery” for victims and their children.

Those seeking refuge from violence and domestic abuse currently receive varying levels of support depending on their location, with some unable to find refuge places because there is no provision at all.

May said: “I’ve always vowed to leave no stone unturned in tackling domestic abuse - this abhorrent crime has no place in our country.

“Today we are ending the postcode lottery by placing on local authorities a legal duty to deliver support, including secure housing, to survivors of domestic abuse and their children.

“Whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever the abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe.”

The upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill will introduce the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse to include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse.

The new legislation will establish a domestic abuse commissioner and will also prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in family courts.

Nicki Norman, acting co-chief executive of Women's Aid, said more consistent dedicated funding was “desperately needed” as many of her organisation’s member services were struggling with a “shoestring budget.”

“We look forward to working with the government to ensure that this important move to fund refuges is safe, sustainable and delivers the resources that services urgently require to support all women and children fleeing domestic abuse.”

Funding worth £22m is already available to local authorities to purchase beds in refuges and to increase access to education and employment, but communities secretary James Brokenshire said it was estimated an extra £90m would be needed to provide accommodation to victims.

Image credit - funky-data

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