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Domestic Violence Refuges

Volume 623: debated on Thursday 23 March 2017

10. What recent assessment the Government have made of the adequacy of the availability of domestic violence refuges for women. (909435)

Refuges provide vital support for victims of domestic abuse. We are investing £40 million over this Parliament in services to support victims of domestic abuse, including refuges. We expect local areas to assess their need, and to provide services and support to meet that need.

Domestic violence refuges are unique within the supported housing sector because many who need them have to flee a long distance to be safe. By relying solely on local authorities to commission refuge services, the Government are failing to maintain a strategic approach. We are now seeing patchy provision with, for example, the recent closure of the last remaining refuge in Cumbria. Is the Minister monitoring the number of specialist refuge services and specialist providers that have closed since 2010? If not, how can he be assured—

Order. I am extremely grateful but we have got the thrust of it. We really do need to be briefer. That was far too long.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

We recognise the importance of refuges. That is why we are exempting refuges from the 1% social rent cap policy, and exempting them from the local housing allowance rate until 2019-20. We are working closely with organisations that provide refuges to ensure that we get the new system for supported housing right, so that we can continue to provide those refuges, which are so badly needed.

I warmly welcome what the Government are doing in this crucial area, but what work is being done with local authorities and social housing providers on the next stage, which is ensuring that there are enough homes for women and their families to return to that provide a safer environment?

I reassure my right hon. Friend that we are working closely with housing associations on that important issue, and particularly on getting the funding stream right for supported housing. We are also working on bringing badly needed new supply on stream.