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House of Commons Hansard
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Domestic Abuse: Health Priorities
17 May 2018
Volume 641
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7. What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on treating domestic abuse as a health priority. [905383]

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This Government are firmly committed to tackling domestic abuse. On 8 March, alongside the announcement of the domestic abuse consultation, we announced an additional £2 million to improve the health response, offering further support to survivors of domestic abuse. The Home Secretary chairs an inter-ministerial group on violence against women and girls to ensure that all Departments, including the Department of Health and Social Care, work together to treat crimes such as domestic abuse as a priority.

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I thank the Minister for her answer. She may be aware that, according to the SafeLives report published last year, early intervention through hospitals can reach four out of five victims who would not have reported the abuse to the police. Will she therefore outline what plans her Government have to ensure that all hospitals, in their A&E and maternity units, have onsite domestic abuse support workers?

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The hon. Lady identifies a key touchstone for reaching women who perhaps have not been able to find the space or the courage to meet people who can give them help. There is a great deal of work going on, particularly with hospitals, as part of the £2 million package I announced earlier.

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11. Although the Government say that victims of domestic abuse can apply for split payment of universal credit, a survey by Women’s Aid shows that 85% of survivors say they would not dare apply as an exceptional measure, as it would attract further abuse. Is the Minister for Women and Equalities willing to meet me to discuss the importance of delivering split payments as the default to protect the financial independence of women? [905387]

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The hon. Lady and I have already met to discuss this, and I know that she is greatly concerned. I am discussing the issue with my colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions, and of course the Minister for Women and Equalities will meet her to discuss it further. We are very clear that the DWP and those who work in jobcentres are a gateway to potentially offering support and help to women who present with those symptoms.

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Last week, I visited a refuge run by Hestia, the organiser behind next week’s “UK Says No More” campaign—I have spare badges. Hestia tells me that nearly 1 million children every year are affected by domestic abuse, yet there are no meaningful resources to help tackle the mental health issues experienced by those children. What more are the Government prepared to do to provide resources to address the mental health issues of the children affected?

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I thank the hon. Lady for that. I know that she is personally very committed to this subject. I was delighted to join Hestia this week at its launch event for a piece of technology that I believe will have a real effect on helping survivors and victims of domestic abuse. We are allocating £8 million specifically to help children who witness domestic abuse in their homes, because we all recognise the great harm this can cause children, both at the time of the abuse and in the longer term. That is precisely why children will be at the heart of the draft domestic abuse Bill, which will be presented to this House in due course.