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Covid-19: Domestic Abuse

Volume 675: debated on Wednesday 6 May 2020

What steps the Government have taken to help protect people living with abusive partners during the covid-19 lockdown. (902291)

What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of the covid-19 lockdown on domestic abuse victims. (902292)

What steps the Government have taken to help protect people living with abusive partners during the covid-19 lockdown. (902298)

We know that lockdown can cause particular pressures for people who are living in abusive households, which is why the Home Office has launched an awareness campaign and published specific guidance on setting out the support services available to victims. To ensure that these vital services can continue to support victims during lockdown, we have provided an additional £2 million of funding to bolster specialist helplines and websites. That is in addition to—

All domestic abuse is heartbreaking, but it is particularly so for children. What are the Government doing for children affected by domestic abuse in my constituency of Clwyd South, the rest of Wales and the rest of the UK?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this question. The Domestic Abuse Bill, which had its Second Reading last week, requires the domestic abuse commissioner to consider the impact of domestic abuse on children in her work. In addition, the Bill includes a new statutory duty on tier 1 local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children within safe accommodation. Last week, I announced £3.1 million in funding for specialist support for children affected by domestic abuse.

I would like to press the Minister on what she is doing specifically in relation to older people who are victims of domestic abuse. Age UK has recently reported that, in 2019, more than 280,000 people aged between 60 and 74 experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales. Given Government advice both in Wales and across the UK on lockdown, it would be helpful to know what specific support she is providing for older people who are victims?

I thank the hon. Member for his question. As I say, the website sets out the services that are available to victims of domestic abuse in these very troubling times, and of course helplines may be of particular use to older people who are not perhaps as familiar with online services as younger generations. In addition, we have announced £76 million in funding to help vulnerable people, with the Chancellor’s £750 million charities fund, and that includes victims of domestic abuse. Of course, the Bill itself will help to—

The Churches Housing Association of Dudley and District is a charity that provides support and housing to vulnerable people, including victims of domestic abuse. Does my hon. Friend agree that the recent announcement of £76 million to support such charities and the new priority need status allocated to victims who are seeking local housing will provide very real support to an extremely vulnerable group of people at this difficult time?

I agree with my hon. Friend that small and frontline charities play a vital role in supporting vulnerable people. That is why, on Saturday, the Communities Secretary announced a £76 million fund or package of support to ensure that the most vulnerable in society get the support they need during the pandemic.

Disabled women are three to four times more likely to face domestic abuse than non-disabled women, but accessible specialist services are most at risk during this coronavirus crisis; only one in 10 refuge spaces is accessible. As part of the work of the disability unit, will the Minister ensure that specialist funding for disabled domestic abuse victims is ring-fenced?

I thank the hon. Lady, and I welcome her to her position. We are very aware that disabled people face additional pressures when they are victims of domestic abuse, so certainly those considerations form part of the Government’s plans to help the most vulnerable people in society during these very troubling times.

Order. This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. I know all hon. Members will be keen to mark this occasion, even in these exceptional circumstances. I will be marking the occasion with a wreath-laying ceremony in the House on Friday.

We now come to questions to the Prime Minister. I would like to welcome the Prime Minister back to his rightful place in the Chamber. The whole House and the whole country are delighted at his recovery, and I welcome him back to this elected House.