Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 19th March 2018.

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Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:30 pm, 19th March 2018

The Bill is specifically about lifetime tenancies. The review of women’s refuges is about provision across the country. Some areas specialise in sanctuaries rather than hostels or refuges; others specialise in hostels followed by move-on accommodation and the involvement of outreach workers. We intend to review all provision in the country, to close the review in the summer, and to report back in the autumn. We will be updating the House as we proceed.

The most recent lettings data show that in 2016-17, some 1.52% of all social lettings were to existing social tenants who cited domestic violence as the main reason why they left their previous social home. This may be a small proportion of tenants, but it is still more than 5,000 lives affected by domestic abuse, and those people can be supported better under the provisions in this Bill.

As Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth said in the other place, we understand and appreciate

“that there will be other circumstances in which it might be appropriate for local authorities to continue to offer lifetime tenancies at their discretion. We will set out those circumstances in regulations that we are currently developing.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 9 January 2018;
Vol. 788, c. 136.]

I hope that that helps Toby Perkins. These regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure, and the House will have the opportunity to debate them after they have been laid.

As I said at the start of my speech, this Bill has already faced scrutiny in the other place, and it reaches us in a much better shape as a result. This is a great example of how constructive cross-party efforts can have positive results, and I have been extremely pleased with the work going forward. I am grateful to colleagues on both sides of the House for taking so much time to talk to me about the Bill. I hope that all hon. Members can support this narrow Bill for a specific purpose. I look forward to our further helpful debates about the Bill.