Today, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Kelly Tolhurst, announced a £6 million Domestic Abuse Capacity Building Fund for local authorities. This new funding will enable councils across England to be better prepared to commission additional vital support for victims of domestic abuse and their children who might currently be turned away from refuges and other safe accommodation because their needs cannot be met.
The Domestic Abuse Bill, currently before Parliament, includes a new duty for Tier One local authorities to assess need and provide support and safe accommodation to victims and their children in England.
Thousands more people are expected to be helped from April 2021 when the duty on councils to support victims of domestic abuse comes into force. Ahead of the Act coming into force, this new £6 million of funding will help councils plan accommodation and specialist services. Councils can prepare by working ever more closely with other agencies such as police or health commissioners and ensure their staff receive training in the new duty.
To further help councils prepare, the Government has today published guidance on the fund’s purpose and is providing councils with information and support. To view, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/domestic-abuse-capacity-building-fund-for-local-authorities/guidance-for-local-authorities-on-the-domestic-abuse-capacity-building-fund#the-purpose-of-the-6-million-capacity-building-fund.
Rebecca is pleased that the Government has committed to supporting all domestic abuse survivors. That’s why since 2014, the Government have invested £80 million in safe accommodation services to support victims of domestic abuse, including a £10 million Emergency Fund to support refuge charities during the Covid-19 pandemic. In April, the Home Secretary announced £2 million to ensure helplines and online services continue to be easily accessible to victims, during the coronavirus pandemic. This follows the appointment in September 2019 of an independent Domestic Abuse Commissioner to lead on driving improvements in the response to domestic abuse in the UK, putting victims at the heart of the response.
This fund will be allocated equally to Tier one local authorities (unitary and metropolitan authorities, county councils, the Greater London Authority, and the Council of the Isles of Scilly), who will be the accountable body under the new duty.
Domestic abuse is a devastating crime which creates long term impacts on victims, their children, and wider society. That is why Rebecca is encouraging all local authorities, including Castle Point Borough Council, to use this funding to ensure they are ready for implementation in April 2021.
Government’s Commitment to Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse
We are continuing our work to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experience, safe in the knowledge that the justice system and other agencies will do everything they can both to protect and support them and their children and pursue their abuser.
The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill will transform the response to domestic abuse to better protect victims and their children, ensure they have the support they need and pursue their abuser. This includes a new legal duty on Tier 1 local authorities to assess and provide support within safe accommodation to victims and their children in England.
Domestic abuse cases are amongst the highest priority work being dealt with by the courts, and Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Non-Molestation orders continue to be listed for urgent hearings despite the backlog of cases.
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
Since 2014, MHCLG has invested over £80 million in safe accommodation services to support victims of domestic abuse, including refuges. This includes £16.6 million awarded to 75 local authority-led domestic abuse projects in February, helping up to 43,000 victims.
Since 2018, the Home Office has provided £1.1 million per year to fund seven national support helplines for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, with an additional £1.2 million funding to ensure helplines and online services remain available to those in need of support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, the Home Office has provided £3.1 million to projects supporting children affected by domestic abuse.
The Home Office launched an awareness campaign in April #YouAreNotAlone - to raise the profile of domestic abuse victims during Covid-19 and signpost victims to the support services available. The campaign materials have been translated into 15 priority languages and 330 million people have seen the campaign on social media.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has allocated £76 million to support the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic, including victims of domestic. Funding was distributed across departments from MHCLG, Home Office, Department for Education and Ministry of Justice. This funding includes support for safe accommodation bed spaces, helpline support and community access support.
The Government has also published guidance for domestic abuse services in support of their service delivery at these unprecedented times and have made PPE available to Domestic Abuse Refuges. The guidance will help protect victims and their children residing in safe accommodation.