A Safe Home: breaking the link between homelessness and domestic abuse
Leah Miller from Crisis on the launch of the 'A Safe Home' campaign.
No one who has fled domestic abuse should be left facing a choice between homelessness or returning to a dangerous situation. However, new research carried out by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness (APPGEH) shows that this is the case for an estimated 1,960 people each year in England, all because local authority rules state they aren’t vulnerable enough for help with finding permanent housing.
There is a strong link between homelessness and domestic abuse. In 2018, 5,380 households were made homeless in England over a three-month period directly because of domestic abuse. Crisis’ services support hundreds of survivors each year, with one in five of the women the charity works with citing domestic abuse as the direct case of their homelessness.
But under current legislation in England, people fleeing domestic abuse have to prove that they are significantly more vulnerable than an “ordinary” person facing homelessness in order to access a safe and settled home. The bar for proving vulnerability can be incredibly high and being asked to provide evidence is not only deeply traumatic for survivors, it’s extremely difficult to do.
An inquiry carried out by the APPGEH into domestic abuse heard of one woman being told to return home to get a letter from the perpetrator stating that he had raped and attacked her. Others have reported being told to provide criminal reference numbers, an inappropriate expectation as many survivors will not want to report abuse to the police. This could also result in a person staying in a dangerous situation where they are at risk of experiencing further harm.
Recent research by Women’s Aid found that nearly one quarter of survivors supported through their No Woman Turned Away project, who were prevented from making a valid homelessness application, were turned away by local authorities as they were told they would not be in priority need for housing.
The APPGEH’s ‘A Safe Home’ campaign calls on the Government to break the link between homelessness and domestic abuse by extending automatic priority need for settled housing to everyone who is homeless following domestic abuse. This would recognise that everyone who is left facing homelessness due to domestic abuse is vulnerable by definition.
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 places a very welcome emphasis on prevention and we hope that, as far as possible, local authorities will support people at risk of homelessness due to domestic abuse through the new prevention and relief duties included in the Act.
However, it is not always possible to prevent a person’s homelessness, and this is especially true for survivors of domestic abuse. Often people present as homeless at a time when they have fled a dangerous situation and would be at risk of further abuse if they returned home. The APPG’s recent research, which looks at what happens to survivors after they have gone through relief and prevention stage, shows that many people are still falling through the gaps.
It is essential that automatic priority need for settled housing is extended to survivors of domestic abuse to plug this crucial gap in support and ensure greater consistency across local authorities.
The Government is currently consulting on plans to place a new legal duty on larger, Tier 1 local authorities to ensure that all survivors have access to temporary support in emergency refuges. However, the case remains that without a change to the homelessness legislation, there is still no legal duty to provide everyone who is homeless because of domestic abuse with a safe and settled home. This means that many survivors may become stuck in refuge accommodation, unable to move forward with their lives.
The APPGEH, supported by Homeless Link, and other partners from across the homelessness and women’s sector, is calling on the Government to urgently amend the Domestic Abuse Bill so that it guarantees all homeless survivors of domestic abuse a safe home.
To help us encourage the Government to make this change happen, we are asking the public to share their thoughts on why the new legal duty proposed by the Government doesn’t go far enough in ensuring all homeless survivors of domestic abuse can access safe, settled housing. If you would like to support the APPG’s campaign you can let the Government know your views here.
You can also show your support for the campaign on social media using the hashtag #ASafeHome or contact the APPG Secretariat to find out more Leah.Miller@Crisis.org.uk
Latest News from
Excellence Awards // P3 Charity – ACTion Lincs // Excellence in collaboration and partnership working12/11/2019 15:20:00
Next in our series of films promoting the winners of this year's Excellence Awards, we have a film showcasing the amazing work at P3 Charity – ACTion Lincs, the winner of the 'Excellence in collaboration and partnership working' category at this year's awards.
Tampon Tax funding behind charities’ bids to end women’s homelessness08/11/2019 11:10:00
Twenty nine diverse charities from across England that work with women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, have been awarded grants from Homeless Link’s Ending Women’s Homelessness grants programme, funded by the Government’s Tampon Tax Fund.
London Winter Shelters list 2019/20 published04/11/2019 13:25:00
Blog posted by: Matthew Donald, Friday, 1 November 2019.
Supporting your clients around Universal Credit – what are the issues for you?24/10/2019 12:25:00
Blog posted by: Sue Christoforou, Wednesday, 23 October 2019.
Nationwide Community Grants – open for applications22/10/2019 13:43:00
Local community housing projects and charities are being invited to submit applications for grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 to support projects which seeks to help people into a home, prevent people from losing their homes, and support people to thrive within their homes.
Health and Wellbeing Alliance latest update22/10/2019 12:33:00
Blog posted by: Caroline Bernard, Tuesday, 22 October 2019.
2019 Cold Weather Fund Application Guidance14/10/2019 15:20:00
MHCLG are providing up to £1million of the Cold Weather Fund to Homeless link to administer funding to charitable organisations that are not commissioned by local authorities.
Support for people experiencing homelessness in England: what the latest figures tell us10/10/2019 13:20:00
Blog posted by: Molly Zakra, Thursday, 10 October 2019.