One Source Dec 19 Deputy Director

Tower Hamlets Dec 19 Updated 600

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Councils to have statutory duty to deliver support in secure accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse

Councils are to be legally required for the first time to deliver support in secure accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse, the Government has announced.

It said the new legal requirement would “end the variation across the country in support for those fleeing domestic abuse” and ensure a consistent approach.

Local authorities will also be required to work together with neighbouring councils to ensure domestic abuse services reflect the needs of local people – including targeted, specialist support for BAME, LGBT and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller survivors, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said.

For the first time, local authorities will 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.

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The proposals are part of a consultation that will run for 12 weeks.

The MHCLG said the consultation would complement wider work across government, including a 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.

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.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire 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.”

The MHCLG insisted that funding would be provided to place the services on a long-term, sustainable footing. “The exact level of funding will be determined with stakeholders as part of the consultation process.”

Sandra Horley, 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.”

The consultation has also been welcomed by Women’s Aid and SafeLives.

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