In Brief

Theresa May vows to end ‘postcode lottery’ for abuse victims

PM announces legal duty for councils to provide help for victims and their children.

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The prime minister has vowed to end the “postcode lottery” for victims of domestic abuse, by creating a nationwide legal duty for councils to provide secure homes for victims and their children.

People seeking refuge from abusive and violent relationships currently receive varying levels of support depending on their location. 

Sky News says “thousands of victims of domestic abusive will be better protected” under the plans. The Times adds that council leaders “have warned it would have to be backed up by central government funding”.

The Domestic Abuse Bill will usher in the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse. It will specifically include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse.

The law will found a new Domestic Abuse Commissioner and prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in family courts.

The government has launched a consultation to calculate how much funding is needed and how it should be spent. It will speak to victims and survivors, as well as organisations supporting victims and their children every day.

Announcing the bill, the prime minister said the “abhorrent crime” of domestic abuse had “no place” in the UK. She said that she has “always vowed to leave no stone unturned in tackling domestic abuse”.

May continued: “Today we are ending the postcode lottery by placing on local authorities a legal duty to deliver support, including secure housing, to survivors of domestic abuse and their children.”

Addressing victims of domestic abuse, she said: “Whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever the abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe.”

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said May’s plans could secure “life-saving services”.

“This has the potential to end the postcode lottery for refuge places and could put these life-saving services on a secure financial footing for the first time,” she said.

Nicki Norman of Women's Aid, said many of her organisation's member services are offering support on a “shoestring budget”, which means reliable, dedicated funding is “desperately needed”.

She said her organisation hopes to work with the government to ensure the “important move” is “safe, sustainable and delivers the resources that services urgently require to support all women and children fleeing domestic abuse”.

In 2017, The Guardian reported that austerity cuts meant services to vulnerable women were under threat.

The BBC reports this morning that funding of £22m has been made available to local councils to obtain more than 2,000 beds in refuges and other safe accommodation - and to provide access to education and employment.

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