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The government has pledged to offer people fleeing from abusive and violent relationships greater protection.
Prime minister Theresa May has announced a new package of support which will see councils legally-bound to provide vital life-saving support in secure accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children.
According to the government, domestic abuse ‘shatters the lives of over two million survivors and their families every year’.
The government says that, though many councils already provide tailored support for people fleeing violent relationships, 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’.
Additionally, local authorities will be required to work together with neighbouring councils to ensure domestic abuse services reflects the needs of local people, including targeted, specialist support for BAME, LGBT and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller survivors.
PM May said: ‘I’ve always vowed to leave no stone unturned in tackling domestic abuse – this abhorrent crime has no place in our country.
‘Whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever the abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe.’
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.
Through the consultation, ministers want to hear from victims and survivors, service and housing providers, local authorities, police and prime commissioners and other public agencies, as well as other professionals who support victims and their children every day.
Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: ‘Refuge is delighted by the government’s decision to place a legal duty on local authorities to provide funding for accommodation-based support for survivors of domestic abuse.
‘This has the potential to end the postcode lottery for refuge places and could put these life-saving services on a secure financial footing for the first time.
‘It could provide vital protection to tens of thousands of women and children who experience violence and intimidation in the home. Women and children deserve and need to live in safety.’
Nicki Norman, acting co-chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: ‘We warmly welcome this announcement which shows the government’s commitment to the long-term funding of lifesaving refuges.
‘At Women’s Aid we have been campaigning since 2014 with our SOS campaign to protect and fund the national network of refuges, and with many of our member services delivering services on a shoestring budget, a move to consistent, dedicated funding is desperately needed.’
The consultation lasts 12 weeks and can be found here.