Councils to give priority accommodation for domestic abuse victims made homeless

New guidance from the Domestic Abuse Act means victims of domestic abuse will be prioritised for housing.

06/07/21

Councils to give priority accommodation for domestic abuse victims made homeless

Victims who are homeless due to domestic abuse will now be prioritised for accommodation from their local authority.

Under the landmark Domestic Abuse Act, councils will have to find accommodation for people made homeless through domestic abuse, which the Government says will help to ensure victims do not remain with their abuser for fear of being made homeless.

Previously, victims had to be assessed as being ‘vulnerable’ as a result of domestic abuse to be identified as having a priority need. Under the new legislation, domestic abuse will be a standalone reason to qualify as needing this support.

The new guidance is one of the first of many measures included in the Domestic Abuse Act to come into effect.

Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, said it is a tragedy that some victims remain with their abusers for fear of not having a roof over their head.

“Today’s change will mean all councils must find accommodation for victims who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse - ensuring they have a safe space to rebuild their lives,” Hughes said.

Councils have been allocated £1.5 million this year to meet the changes. Local authorities will also have a new duty, coming into force later this year, to help victims and their children access life-saving support in safe accommodation. £125 million funding allocated for this over the next year, which councils were provided with in April so that they can start to fulfil those functions ahead of this duty

However, earlier this week a report from the Local Government Association (LGA) showed that councils in England spent £142 million placing homeless households in bed and breakfasts in the last year. Compared with the spend of £26.7m in 2010/11, the figure shows a 430% increase in just a decade.

It also warned that there are currently 10,510 households in bed and breakfasts, according to provisional data, compared with 2,310 a decade ago – more than a 350% increase. The LGA says there is an “urgent need” for more social housing to accommodate homeless households.

Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said the figures reflect the scale of the housing challenges that our country faces.

“Councils will only use bed and breakfasts as a last resort, but the severe lack of suitable housing means they now have no choice.

“This is hugely disruptive to families with children, and the rising demand for support has come with soaring costs for councils.”

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