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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-to-commissioners-for-domestic-abuse-and-victims-about-coronavirus-covid-19/letter-to-commissioners-for-domestic-abuse-and-victims-about-coronavirus
Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales
2 Marsham Street
Victims Commissioner for England and Wales
5th Floor, 7 Petty France
Dear Nicole and Dame Vera,
Thank you for your joint letter of 4 November regarding support for victims of domestic abuse during the period of new measures to counter COVID-19.
As you note, domestic abuse exists regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic and as I hope you know, tackling it has been a government priority for many years prior to this. However, we are aware that those experiencing domestic abuse may feel especially isolated and vulnerable during this period and I am grateful for your recognition that the government has acted quickly and decisively in prioritising the needs of such vulnerable individuals. We have worked widely across government and with stakeholders and charitable organisations to monitor, assess and respond to ongoing impacts. Unprecedented levels of support have been provided to the organisations supporting victims of domestic abuse and other hidden harms. £76 million was allocated by the government to charities supporting victims of domestic and sexual abuse, vulnerable children and their families and victims of modern slavery, and over £25 million of this has now been paid out for domestic abuse organisations.
I fully agree on the vital need to continue to remind victims of abuse that they do not have to observe restrictions if they need to leave home to seek refuge or help. This was a message recently repeated by the Prime Minister when announcing the new national measures, and we will continue to take every opportunity to reinforce this. The #YouAreNotAlone campaign was, I believe, highly successful both in raising general public awareness of domestic abuse issues as well as in signposting victims to crucial sources of support. I am delighted to be able to say, therefore, that we have renewed the campaign to cover the winter period. It will continue to target victims with a range of marketing and social media activity and materials are available in 16 languages. I should be most grateful for any help you can provide in further promoting this campaign.
More widely, we are preparing for the launch of a codeword scheme in conjunction with retailers, as well as working with businesses to explore opportunities to further promote information on domestic abuse through their outlets and online services.
Regarding extraordinary funding during this current period, the Home Office is providing £945,000 to 31 domestic abuse organisations which have previously received Home Office COVID-19 funding, according to ongoing need. This will help them to sustain expanded or specialist services developed to respond to needs generated over the period of the pandemic. This funding builds on the funding already allocated by the Home Office to support nationally and regionally based domestic abuse organisations. That funding has already allowed organisations to acquire equipment to adapt to home working, to increase their helpline and online capacity and hours of working, to develop new guidance and specialist services for especially vulnerable groups and to train more staff - for example it enabled SafeLives to train hundreds of frontline workers online, including 72 new Independent Domestic Violence Advisers.
I understand the concerns of domestic abuse organisations regarding future funding. The government has committed to developing a Victims’ Funding Strategy and a new delivery model, that will place the sector on a more sustainable footing in the longer term. With respect to next year, as part of the outcome of the Spending Review, the government has announced that £125 million will be allocated to local authorities for 2021-22, to fund the new duty to provide support to domestic abuse victims in safe accommodation. In addition, £40 million will be provided for victims and support services.
We will continue to work closely with all relevant parties to monitor ongoing trends and impacts and to seek ways to meet these and to continue to tackle the scourge of domestic abuse. I should like to thank you both for your invaluable contributions over this challenging period, including advising on emerging issues, and for your extensive work with domestic abuse and victims’ charities and organisations to develop a clear picture of key issues and challenges. We will continue to build on our learning to date to respond effectively to these in the coming months.
Rt Hon Priti Patel