Skip to main content

Refuges: Domestic Violence

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the findings of the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Map of Gaps: The Postcode Lottery of Violence Against Women Support Services, on the provision of refuges by local authorities for victims of domestic violence. (257409)

We have taken note of the report and continue to recognise the important role refuges can play in helping the victims of domestic abuse. We also recognise that there is a range of support for those victims; some will be accommodated in refuges, but sanctuary schemes and mainstream local authority accommodation may be an option for others, while some victims will pursue independent solutions with help and advice from support schemes as necessary.

However it is for individual local authorities to identify any gaps in service provision and put in place appropriate solutions to address this. We would expect local authorities to build services based on the needs of their communities, taking account of locally available data sources.

The Department have recently commissioned new research that will identify the current housing options available to households at risk of domestic violence, and to assess whether this provision meets current need. It will involve establishing the extent and type of temporary and settled accommodation available for households at risk of domestic violence in England, including the provision of housing related support services delivered to both temporary and settled accommodation, and to households’ own homes.

In 2003 the Government announced major investment in refuge provision in England in 2003-06. A total of £34 million capital was allocated and 511 units of accommodation were refurbished or newly built. More recently the Hostels Capital Improvement Programme (2005-07) funded six new and refurbished refuges at a cost of £4 million.

CLG provides essential revenue support for victims of domestic violence through the Supporting People Programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make an assessment of the (a) geographical distribution, (b) quality and (c) effectiveness of (i) refuges for victims of domestic violence and (ii) services for victims of rape in England; and if she will make a statement. (259603)

There is a range of support for survivors of domestic abuse. The homelessness legislation provides a safety net for survivors and some will be accommodated in refuges, but Sanctuary Schemes and mainstream local authority accommodation may be an option for others, while some survivors will pursue independent solutions with help and advice from support schemes as necessary.

The Department has recently commissioned new research that will identify the current housing options available to households at risk of domestic abuse, and to assess whether this provision meets current need across England. It will involve establishing the extent and type of temporary and settled accommodation (including refuges) available for households who have experienced or are at risk of domestic abuse in England, including the provision of housing related support services.

The Quality Assessment Framework (QAF) was introduced in 2003 and sets out the standards expected in the delivery of housing-related support services, including domestic abuse refuges (funded through the Supporting People programme). Its purpose is to drive up quality standards across the sector and to ensure that services evolve to meet the changing needs and aspirations of clients.

The QAF has been one of the major successes of the Supporting People programme. The majority of administering authorities continue to use the QAF today and there is also evidence that other areas across authorities, such as adult social care, are also adopting the QAF as the standard tool to measure the quality of services being delivered.

A national Supporting People Outcomes Framework was launched in summer 2007. The framework monitors the outcomes delivered by housing-related support services, including domestic abuse refuges, across England for a wide range of client groups.

The Government are rolling out sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) and independent sexual violence advisers (ISVAs) across the country to support victims of rape. There are currently 27 SARCs and distribution is recorded by the Home Office. The Home Secretary has made a commitment to have one in each police force area by 2011. A method of assessing quality and effectiveness is currently being developed by the Department of Health. There are currently 36 ISVAs and there is a Government commitment to ensure all victims have access to an ISVA by 2011. Distribution of ISVAs is recorded by the Home Office and quality and effectiveness is currently assessed by regional Government offices.

Central Government do not collect information in respect of voluntary sector services for victims of rape.