New support for survivors of domestic abuse

Thousands of survivors fleeing abusive and violent relationships will receive greater protection thanks to a new package of support, announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

Under the plans, councils across the country will be legally required to provide vital life-saving support in secure accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children – ensuring need in their local area is met.

While many local authorities are already providing tailored support to those fleeing violent relationships, the government insists that more needs to be done to end the variation across the country in support and ensure a consistent approach across the country so all families are able to recover and overcome their experiences. As such, local authorities will also be required to work together with neighbouring councils to ensure domestic abuse services reflects the needs of local people.

For the first time, local authorities will also 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. Funding will also be provided to place these vital services on a long-term, sustainable footing.

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.”

Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is an issue which councils take very seriously and they already offer a range of support to protect victims and their families from this horrendous crime. These additional measures will assist councils in this vital work.

“Councils cannot tackle this crime on their own. It requires a range of public services, including the police to work together. It will be important that the final package ensures local authorities are supported in their work going forward, and provide flexibility to ensure services can be tailored to the needs of different areas.

“However our ambition must be to reduce the number of victims, with greater investment in early intervention and prevention schemes that helps stop domestic abuse occurring in the first place. Therefore the government’s announcement that funding will be provided to place these vital services on a long-term, sustainable footing is a positive step. We look forward to working with government and our member councils during the consultation to ensure there is adequate resources and funding in place in the areas which need it.”