Statement from Neil Coyle MP on the Joint Committee's recommendations on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill
“We are extremely disappointed that the Joint Committee on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill has not included our call for people who are homeless as a result of fleeing domestic abuse to be automatically given priority need for settled housing. Our ‘A Safe Home’ report provides extensive evidence from organisations including Crisis, Women’s Aid, Refuge and St Mungo’s, highlighting how crucial this change would be to survivors by ensuring they are able to access a safe home, where they can rebuild their lives away from abuse.
“The current system of asking domestic abuse survivors to provide evidence of their vulnerability before they can access safe housing is incredibly insensitive and traumatic, and often impossible to do. We’ve heard horrifying stories of people being asked to return to the address they have fled to gather evidence of the abuse they’ve experienced. Yet we know that nearly 2,000 domestic abuse survivors a year are being put at risk of homelessness because they are not considered to be in priority need for housing by their local council. 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. This is unforgivable in 21st century Britain.
“The Government is currently consulting on proposals that would place a new legal duty on local authorities to ensure that all survivors have access to emergency refuge accommodation. While this is a step in the right direction, the case remains that without a change to homelessness legislation, there is still no legal duty to provide everyone who is homeless because of domestic abuse with a safe and permanent home. This means many people face the prospect of being stuck in temporary accommodation for months or even years on end with their lives on hold. This is especially important when we consider that between October and December last year, 5,380 households were made homeless in England directly because of domestic abuse.
“We know it doesn’t have to be this way. The Domestic Abuse Bill presents the opportune moment to ensure that everyone fleeing domestic abuse has access to a safe home when they need it most. Putting lives in danger simply can’t carry on and we will continue to pressure the Government into making this much needed change.” - Neil Coyle MP, Chair of the APPG for Ending Homelessness