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BLOG: New Government plans to help support victims of domestic abuse

Domestic Abuse victim refuge

The Government has revealed a new plan to protect victims of domestic abuse by providing them with secure accommodation.

Whilst many local authorities provide tailored support for victims fleeing domestic violence, in many cases their available resources are limited. They are under no legal obligation to provide secure homes for those affected, resulting in thousands of victims being left in a vulnerable position.

What is more concerning is the differing levels of support being offered to victims of domestic violence, dependent on the area they live in. Many victims have had to seek refuge outside of their hometown, leaving them isolated from friends and family as there is no support available in their local area. Many have been turned away from overcrowded shelters following funding cuts, resulting in many refuges closing since 2010.

Theresa May has vowed to end the ‘postcode lottery’ by placing a legal duty on local authorities to deliver support.

This includes secure housing to survivors of domestic abuse and their children. The new government plan aims to ensure that ‘whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe’.

For the first time, councils in England will have a legal duty to provide secure homes for victims of domestic abuse, a plan which is welcomed by refuges, and many survivors. One victim has described the move as “absolutely momentous news.”

Domestic abuse devastates the lives of more than two million people and their children every year. It is reassuring for many to see the Government has acknowledged more needs to be done to protect victims and allow them to access the support they need. The new plans will enable a consistent approach to the support available to victims across England.

Local authorities will be required work alongside each other to ensure that their services reflect the needs of local people, including black and ethnic minority, LGBT and traveller communities.

The Government’s new proposals are following on from the launch of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which introduces a definition of domestic abuse to include not only physical abuse, but economic control, coercive control and manipulation. This will allow for more people to be recognised as victims and receive the help and support that they desperately need.

Government Ministers are now in the process of determining how much funding is needed to help support their plans. In November the government awarded £22 million for domestic abuse projects across the country, and promised to provide more than 2,000 new beds in safe accommodation.

It is hoped that the new proposals will provide much needed reassurance and vital protection for thousands of victims of domestic abuse.

The government’s new proposals are a welcomed step in the right direction to addressing the serious issues surrounding domestic abuse, and could potentially change the lives of many vulnerable victims.

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