Anyone fleeing domestic abuse should be provided with a safe and settled home from their council, said Alex Cunningham, Member of Parliament for Stockton North and Shadow Housing Minister. He joined other politicians, sector experts and survivors of domestic abuse to support a campaign led by the All Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness and Crisis that calls for domestic abuse survivors to be giving top priority by local authorities to be rehomed.
Speaking after the report event, Alex said:
“People fleeing domestic abuse are incredibly vulnerable, and we should be making sure that Councils treat them as top priority for being given a safe and secure home. For many people, it is a matter of life or death and leaving such a situation where they are being abused by their partner can be an incredibly hard action for them to take – so we must make sure that local authorities are helping them rebuild their lives.
“It is a truly awful situation that some people do not leave abusive relationships because they simply have nowhere else to go. This report and its recommendations will make a big difference to those people.
“But we must also make sure that there is the housing available. Waiting lists for homes are incredibly long, and in order to really address the problem we need to build more housing stock. As the Shadow Housing Minister, I will be leading for the opposition in a debate on this next week.”
Currently, survivors of domestic abuse in England are being left at risk of homelessness because local authority rules state they aren’t vulnerable enough for help with finding permanent housing, according to a new report published by Crisis and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness (APPGEH).
A Safe Home: Breaking the link between homelessness and domestic abuse showed that in any given year, an estimated 1,960 households fleeing domestic abuse in England are not being provided with a safe home by their local authority housing teams because under the current system, not everyone fleeing domestic abuse in England is considered in “priority need”.
This means that many survivors are being refused assistance with finding a safe, permanent home where they can begin to rebuild their lives and escape the dangers of the abuse they have experienced.
The findings paint a bleak picture of the harrowing situation people experiencing abuse are left in. Faced with the prospect of nowhere to turn, many survivors have no option but to return to their abusers or face the dangers of homelessness.
Crisis and the APPGEH are calling for the government to urgently amend the Domestic Abuse Bill so that it extends priority need status to all victims who are homeless because of domestic abuse, guaranteeing them a safe and settled home.
The government recently announced measures to ensure that all survivors have access to temporary support in emergency refuges, but this doesn’t go far enough, according to Crisis and the APPGEH.
While refuges are an incredibly important resource providing both shelter and vital mental, physical, and emotional support, in the long term, people fleeing abuse need safe and stable homes to rebuild their lives in. Without this, people face the prospect of being stuck in temporary accommodation for months or even years on end with their lives on hold.
This is particularly important as latest official figures show the number of people who have become homeless because of domestic abuse is alarmingly high. Government statistics released last week show that in 2018, 5,380 households were made homeless in England over a three-month period directly because of domestic abuse.
Meanwhile, Crisis’ own services support hundreds of survivors each year, with one in five of its female members having had their homelessness caused by domestic abuse.