Government urges councils to prioritise housing for domestic abuse victims

By Tristan Donovan

| 30 October 2017

Councils will be "strongly encouraged" to prioritise social housing for children and parents who have fled domestic abuse under new guidance proposed by the government.

In 2014/15 almost 200,000 initial child protection assessments involved domestic violence as a "relevant factor". Picture: David McCullough

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it wants councils to give victims of domestic abuse who are living in refuges and other types of safe temporary accommodation to be given as much assistance as possible to access social housing.

The proposed statutory guidance will "strongly encourage" local authorities to waive residency requirements for access to social housing for people living in refuges or similar accommodation who have moved across council boundaries to escape domestic abuse.

In addition, the guidance will tell councils that victims of domestic abuse who are living in refuges should be treated as in need of social housing on both homelessness and welfare grounds.

Councils will also be asked by the guidance, which is being consulted on until 5 January 2018, to use their existing powers to help tenants who are victims of domestic abuse stay in their current home if they wish.

"Domestic abuse is a devastating crime with complex challenges that extend far beyond the boundaries of local authorities," said communities minister Lord Bourne.

"That's why we're committed to providing local authorities with the robust guidance they need to improve victims' access to the long-term and secure housing they need to rebuild their lives."

The proposal for the guidance comes as the government prepares to introduce a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill in Parliament. The bill will seek to increase support and protection for victims and ensure relevant agencies respond effectively to domestic abuse.

In 2014/15 almost 200,000 initial child protection assessments involved domestic violence as a "relevant factor".

However, last month Ofsted warned that not enough is being done to prevent and address the danger and impact domestic abuse has on children.

The Official for National Statistics says 130,000 children in England and Wales live in homes where there is a "high risk" of domestic abuse. Every month seven women are killed by a current or former partner.

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