Domestic abuse survivors to get priority need for housing as new Act passes | News

Domestic abuse survivors to get priority need for housing as new Act passes

The Domestic Abuse Bill has now become the Domestic Abuse Act, meaning that domestic abuse survivors will "get priority need for housing".

In a landmark step, it is hoped more people that suffer domestic abuse will now leave an abusive relationship, knowing they're entitled to new housing.

There is also now a legal duty on councils to fund support in safe accommodation, although campaigners hoped the government would make the word accommodation 'refuge' for better protection.

The Act also includes a definition of economic abuse for the first time, which will help housing providers when assessing this amongst their tenants.

Women's Aid said in a statement: "The Act is a “once in a generation opportunity” but now we have to see how it translates on the ground. It needs to be used throughout society, at every point where survivors need help – from the police to children’s social care, health, the courts, and more. 

"The lessons from previous legislation are clear – unless the law comes with training for professionals, resources and a clear implementation plan, it will not improve responses to survivors.

"Royal Assent is an important moment, but rather than being the end of the work needed, this provides us with a beginning. The legislation needs to now translate to action to provide the changes that survivors need to see.”

Guy Stenson, Director of Operations at Stonewater: “Housing associations, like us, provide homes for thousands of people and based on the long-term relationship a housing provider has with their customers, we believe that the housing sector can play an important role in tackling domestic abuse and ensuring everybody has a safe place to call home.

"Whilst we welcome the passing of the bill and look forward to working alongside local authorities, local and national partners, and most importantly with survivors to implement the bill, we’re disappointed to see some of these protections have not been extended further.

“In particular, we wanted to see further protection for survivors who have no recourse to public funds and recognition of the distinct needs of those from minority groups. But also, that housing was seen as a core part of the response to supporting survivors.

“The passing of this bill presents a significant milestone in tackling domestic abuse and we will continue developing our services to ensure we are equipped to support any survivor who needs access to safe spaces and support to help them move forward.”

HQN recently produced a briefing for members looking at what the Domestic Abuse Act means for housing providers. Members can access it for free here.