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Victims of Domestic Violence: Social Housing

Volume 632: debated on Monday 4 December 2017

12. What steps his Department is taking to ensure access to safe social housing for victims of domestic violence. (902703)

Victims fleeing abuse must be given appropriate priority access to social housing. We are consulting on new guidance that makes it clear to local authorities that victims moving on from refuges should be given the appropriate priority and that any residency test should not be applied.

Members on both sides of the House hold Women’s Aid in high regard. It has stated that the Government’s new model will close refuges. What assurance can the Minister give the House that that will not be the case?

I can reassure my hon. Friend that that will not be the case. We will continue the funding at exactly the same level as currently. There will be a dedicated grant for local authorities that will be ring-fenced in the long term, and we will also make sure that vulnerable people will not need to deal with the payment of rent at a very difficult time in their lives.

The recent joint Select Committees’ inquiry on supported housing recommended that the Government should establish a national network of women’s refuges to avoid a postcode lottery and to ensure that there is even coverage across the country. Why did the Government reject that recommendation? What will they do to ensure that there is even coverage and that refuges reopen in those areas of the country where they have closed?

We believe that it is right to have a locally led approach in this regard, but we have confirmed that we are committed to reviewing this policy in 2018 under the violence against women and girls strategy. We are looking at all the options, and we have not ruled out nationally commissioning refuges and refuge beds if that is found to be a better solution.