Government announces grants and consultations to help domestic abuse victims

The Government has announced a £125 million package for councils and two housing consultations to support victims of domestic abuse.

The funding is to go towards healthcare, social workers, benefits, interpreters, immigration advice and other specialist services for victims, the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities said.

The first consultation, launched on Tuesday, will consider removing Local Connection Tests for abuse victims, which can stop them from applying for social housing if they do not have a connection to a local area.

The right support in a safe environment is integral to rebuilding your life after fleeing domestic abuse

nicole jacobs

A second consultation will consider whether and how to change rules which make it difficult for victims to remove their perpetrators from joint tenancies.

Safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean said the funding would provide a “vital lifeline” for victims while rough sleeping and housing minister Eddie Hughes said it will give victims “practical and emotional support”.

Nicole Jacobs, domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales, said: “I welcome the confirmation of £125 million to enable local authorities in England to meet their duties to provide support in safe accommodation for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

“The right support in a safe environment is integral to rebuilding your life after fleeing domestic abuse and this duty will be transformative in tackling the postcode lottery of accommodation-based support for victims and survivors.

“I am also pleased that the department is opening consultations on the impacts of joint tenancies on victims of domestic abuse and on local connection requirements for social housing for victims of domestic abuse.

“It is vital that victims and survivors can access safe housing regardless of their tenure type. That means staying safely in their own home if they want to, as well as being able to access housing in a new area if they are no longer safe where they live.”

Safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

(AP Mean)

The £125 million package brings the total amount invested in protecting victims of domestic abuse to more than £330 million since 2014, the department said.

It follows the signing into law of the Domestic Abuse Act in April last year, which places a legal duty on councils to fund support in safe accommodation for all victims and their families.

The funding, in the form of an un-ringfenced grant, will be given to councils to decide how it is spent.

The Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities also said £4 million is being invested in the Respite Rooms program which supports vulnerable rough sleepers impacted by domestic abuse.

Meanwhile, the Government has also pledged to increase funding for victim support services to £185 million a year by 2024/25, up 85% from 2019/20 levels, and to fund more than 1,000 independent sexual and domestic violence advisers and 24/7 crisis helplines.

The promises come after a consultation on a Victims’ Law, which Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said would “give victims a louder voice, a greater role in the criminal justice system, and make criminals pay more to help victims recover”.

The consultation looked at improving support for victims, including by ensuring criminals pay more towards it through the victim surcharge, and improving co-ordination between those responsible for victim support services.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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