Sanctuary Schemes

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th October 2013.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:30 pm, 28th October 2013

What support her Department provides for sanctuary schemes for victims of violence.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government have put stable funding in place, ring-fencing nearly £40 million for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services, rape crisis centres, and national helplines. Decisions on whether to fund the provision of sanctuary schemes for victims of violence are for local authorities, based on their assessment of local need.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I thank the Home Secretary for that response, but I understand that funding for sanctuary schemes has fallen by over a third under this Government. Freedom of information requests have shown that about 21% of victims of domestic violence who make use of such schemes are now falling foul of the bedroom tax. Does the Home Secretary think that such people, who are in a place where they are safe from their abuser, should be evicted because of the bedroom tax?

D

The Country should be hell bent on cutting back waste and costs,, too much going out ,not enough coming in

Submitted by David Britton

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The sanctuary schemes obviously have value for a number of people. They are not right for everybody, but for those for whom they work, such schemes are important when put in place. Latest statistics show that last year, 2012-13, 7,100 households had homelessness prevented or relieved thanks to the installation of a sanctuary scheme—a 17% rise on the previous year. On the spare room subsidy, the Government are providing baseline funding of £20 million annually to the discretionary housing payment scheme, which is available to local authorities to help people in such circumstances. The Government have also provided an additional £25 million per annum on top of the baseline funding until the end of the spending review period.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

In addition to sanctuaries, which are terribly important, does the Home Secretary agree that it is time to re-examine sentencing guidelines on domestic abuse? In one case in my constituency, the ex-husband, who has been convicted twice of domestic abuse, is now living in the same estate as his terrified ex-wife, and no custodial sentence was handed down. Surely such a person should be in prison.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend makes an interesting point, and the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, my right hon. Friend Damian Green, is sitting on the Front Bench and will have heard that question in relation to responsibilities of the Ministry of Justice. Importantly, I have asked Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary to look at the policing of domestic violence, and we must examine how the police respond to such incidents. I am pleased that the Government have introduced a number of pilot schemes and are considering various ways that victims of domestic violence can be further protected. Domestic violence protection orders, for example, enable the victim to remain in their home, rather than the perpetrator remaining and the victim being forced out.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

Last week I wore pink, in common with 100 others in Lichfield—pink trousers, pink shirt, pink feather boa—to walk for the Pathway project in my constituency. It looks after those—not only women, but men too—who suffer from domestic violence. Will the Home Secretary or one of her team please come to Lichfield to see the good work the Pathway project is doing?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I know that my hon. Friend has a fondness for taking photographs, and I wonder whether he has taken a photograph of himself that could perhaps be circulated to Members of the House for their edification. He makes an important point, however, and I commend the Pathway project in Lichfield. I have noted the hon. Gentleman’s invitation, as has the Minister for Crime Prevention, my hon. Friend Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) for one of us to come and visit. May I say what excellent work people in the Pathway project and similar schemes are doing on this important issue?