Authorities given duty to support domestic abuse survivors

13 May 19

Councils will now have a legal duty to protect victims of domestic abuse, the prime minister has announced.

Local authorities in England will be required to house victims of physical, non-physical and economic abuse, although the amount of funding that will be available is yet to be decided.

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.”

The government today launched a consultation, which will seek to establish the exact level of funding that will support the new duties.

Councils will also be required to develop and publish strategies that set out in detail the range of support services available for survivors, the government said.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said the new measures will help “untold numbers of families to safely rebuild their lives, free from the threat of pernicious abuse”.

The government said that the measures would support the work of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, a draft of which was put forward in January 2019.

Nicki Norman, acting co-chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid, said the announcement was “a major step forward”.

But she noted: “In the past decade, we’ve seen a ‘race to the bottom’ on costs within competitive tendering processes, which too often favour large-scale, generic provision and not the expertise of women’s services.

“A sustainable future–  that ensures services with the expertise to meet women’s needs resourced to meet demand – remains a urgent priority.”

Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of domestic abuse charity SafeLives, said: “We welcome this consultation and call for the fullest range of support to be considered, including sanctuary schemes and specialist community support alongside refuges. A new duty, properly funded, would be a welcome step and could help make the case for change at local level.”

The Local Government Association also hailed the announcement as a “positive step”, but it urged the government to put enough money behind the measures.

“We look forward to working with government and our member councils during the consultation to ensure adequate resources and funding [are] in place in the areas which need it,” said Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s safe and stronger communities board.

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