The government recently pledged to temporarily house all victims of domestic abuse, but new research proves this still isn’t enough.
Survivors of domestic abuse are being left at risk of homelessness because local authority rules state they aren’t vulnerable enough for help with finding permanent housing. This is according to a new report published by Crisis and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness (APPGEH).
An estimated 1.2 million women experienced domestic abuse in the UK between 2016 and 2017. Around 4.3 million women aged 16-59 are thought to have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16. Two women are killed by their partner of ex-partner every week in England and Wales.
But this new report shows that nearly 2,000 women a year are not being provided with safe, permanent homes after fleeing domestic abuse.
The findings come after the government legally pledged to find temporary homes for all domestic abuse survivors, which Crisis and the APPGEH are saying isn’t enough. Faced with the prospect of nowhere to turn in the long-run, many survivors have no option but to return to their abusers or face the dangers of homelessness. 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.
This is particularly worrying as government statistics released last week showed 5,380 households were made homeless in England over a three-month period in 2018 because of domestic abuse.
“It’s a horrifying thought that people fleeing domestic abuse aren’t being supported to find a safe home at a time when they need one the most,” said Rebecca Pritchard, Director of Services at Crisis.
“It’s simply not good enough that survivors are being forced to sleep rough or are ending up stuck in temporary accommodation unable to move on with their lives because they’re being refused help to find a safe settled home.
“It doesn’t have to be this way – that’s why we’re calling on the government to ensure survivors are guaranteed a permanent home where they can begin to rebuild their lives away from abuse.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Domestic Violence and Abuse, added: “We know that for survivors of domestic abuse, having somewhere to flee to quickly can be the difference between life and death.
“But right now, we’re leaving people with little choice but to return to the very place and person they were trying to escape or face the dangers of homelessness, because they have nowhere else to go.
“The Domestic Abuse Bill is the government’s chance to make this right by ensuring that everyone fleeing domestic abuse is automatically entitled to a safe, settled home – because in 21st century Britain no one should ever have to choose between homelessness and abuse.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously talked about ending the so-called “postcode lottery” for people seeking refuge, as it was revealed that women received varying levels of support depending on their location – but this most recent news proves that there’s still a long way to go
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