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Local authorities will have statutory duty to provide accommodation for domestic abuse survivors

Government unveils further plans to protect survivors of domestic abuse and their children

Published on 13th May 2019

Local authorities will be legally required to provide secure accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, under a package of measures unveiled by the prime minister.

Local authorities will also be required to work together with neighbouring councils under the proposals to ensure domestic abuse services reflects the needs of local people – including targeted, specialist support for BAME, LGBT and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller survivors.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "I’ve always vowed to leave no stone unturned in tackling domestic abuse – this abhorrent crime has no place in our country.

"And 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," she added.

Domestic abuse affects the lives of over 2 million survivors and their families every year.

While many local authorities are already providing tailored support to those fleeing violent relationships, more needs to be done to end the variation across the country in support and ensure a consistent approach across the country so all families are able to recover and overcome their experiences. For the first time, councils across the country will be legally required to provide vital life-saving support in secure accommodation.

Local authorities will, for the first time, also be required to develop and publish strategies which set out in detail the range of support services available for survivors and their children – including refuge accommodation and specialist support from safety through to independence.

Funding will also be provided to place these vital services on a long-term, sustainable footing. The exact level of funding will be determined with stakeholders as part of the consultation process.

Through the consultation, ministers want to hear from victims and survivors, service and housing providers, local authorities, police and prime commissioners and other public agencies, as well as other professionals who support victims and their children every day.

Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said: "Domestic abuse destroys lives and I am determined to drive the change necessary to ensure families never have to endure the pain of domestic abuse in silence.

"For the first time ever, local authorities will have to legally assess level of support needed in their local area and match that need with vital, life-saving services – helping untold numbers of families to safely rebuild their lives, free from the threat of pernicious abuse.

"These important measures will help us shape the future of the invaluable support survivors of domestic abuse and their children receive," he added.

The consultation will last for 12 weeks. The government will set out its response in due course.

The move follows the publication of the Domestic Abuse Bill which will introduce the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse. The Bill will also establish a new Domestic Abuse Commissioner and prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts.

Sandra Horley, CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge, said: "Refuge is delighted by the government’s decision to place a legal duty on local authorities to provide funding for accommodation based support for survivors of domestic abuse.

"This has the potential to end the postcode lottery for refuge places and could put these life-saving services on a secure financial footing for the first time.

"It could provide vital protection to tens of thousands of women and children who experience violence and intimidation in the home. Women and children deserve and need to live in safety," she added.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "Tackling domestic abuse is an issue which councils take very seriously and they already offer a range of support to protect victims and their families from this horrendous crime. These additional measures will assist councils in this vital work.

“Councils cannot tackle this crime on their own. It requires a range of public services, including the police to work together. It will be important that the final package ensures local authorities are supported in their work going forward, and provide flexibility to ensure services can be tailored to the needs of different areas.

“However our ambition must be to reduce the number of victims, with greater investment in early intervention and prevention schemes that helps stop domestic abuse occurring in the first place.

“Therefore the government’s announcement that funding will be provided to place these vital services on a long-term, sustainable footing is a positive step. We look forward to working with government and our member councils during the consultation to ensure there is adequate resources and funding in place in the areas which need it," he concluded.

 

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