New guidance to ensure victims of domestic abuse can easily access safe, long-term accommodation is published today (30 October 2017).
The guidance, which is subject to a 10-week consultation, makes it clear that local authorities should treat victims of domestic abuse, currently in safe accommodation such as a refuge, as a priority for social housing. It also makes clear that those victims who have fled to refuges in other parts of the country should not be disadvantaged in accessing social housing.
In addition, local authorities are being encouraged to use their existing powers to help victims of domestic abuse to remain safely in their own home without their abuser, if they wish to.
Communities Minister Lord Bourne said:
Domestic abuse is a devastating crime with complex challenges that extend far beyond the boundaries of local authorities.
That’s why we’re committed to providing local authorities with the robust guidance they need to improve victims’ access to long-term and secure housing they need to rebuild their lives.
The guidance comes during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and is one of a number of measures the government has introduced to ensure that those who have to flee their homes due to violence have the specialist support they need to rebuild their lives:
- In March 2016 we confirmed £80 million of funding to 2020 to combat violence against women and girls. In the March 2017, we announced a further £20 million for this work, bringing the total funding up to £100 million over the Parliament to support victims
- In November 2016 we launched a £20 million fund over 2 years for specialist accommodation based support and service reform in local areas. As a result we were able to help 76 projects in England, creating more than 2,200 bed spaces and giving support to over 19,000 victims
We will shortly be introducing a new landmark Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill to protect and support victims, recognise the life-long impact domestic abuse has on children and make sure agencies effectively respond to domestic abuse.
The guidance published will build on and clarify existing guidelines which encourage local authorities to make exceptions to the residency tests and give appropriate priority to the most vulnerable in our society.
The government has also been considering the recommendations of the joint report on the future of supported housing produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions. It will be publishing its response to this on Tuesday 31 October 2017.
The Prime Minister announced earlier this week that as part of our response to this review we will not be applying the Local Housing Allowance cap to supported housing.
The consultation will be open until 5 January 2018.
We recently confirmed plans for a new generation of council and housing association homes through a further £2 billion funding boost bringing investment in affordable housing to over £9 billion.