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Javid to promise £20m boost for women’s shelters – if councils collaborate

Support services for domestic abuse victims will receive a £20m boost via new council funding, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid is expected to announce tomorrow.

Councils will be able to bid for a share of the fund in order to deliver accommodation-based support in partnership with local organisations.

The fund, which will cover 2017 and 2018, will be available on the condition that councils can show that they will collaborate with providers across different areas.

Polly Neale, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Refuges save lives. It’s as simple as that.

“The government is sending out a clear message: refuges play an important role in the response to domestic abuse, and they must be protected. We must now hope that local commissioners listen.”

Following a campaign from Women’s Aid, prime minister Theresa May also promised to exempt women’s shelters from the housing benefits cap after the charity warned that this could force two-thirds of them to close.

The upcoming money is the first tranche of £40m promised at last year’s Spending Review for tackling domestic violence by the end of this Parliament.

The DCLG will also release new guidance for councils, Priorities for Domestic Abuse Services, which has been developed in collaboration with local authorities.

The guidance will make it clear that councils are obliged to accommodate women from outside their local area who are fleeing violent partners.

Neale commented: “This is essential: if women cannot flee across local authority boundaries, their lives can be at risk. “

In August, the Local Government Ombudsman ordered London borough councils Brent and Ealing to pay a total of £1,350 compensation to a woman who it ruled they had failed to help when she requested council housing outside Brent to escape threats from her ex-partner.

(Image c. Joe Giddens from PA Wire/ PA Images)

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