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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:19 pm on 19th March 2018.

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Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington 6:19 pm, 19th March 2018

I very much welcome the Bill and its variation to the Housing and Planning Act 2016. In particular, I welcome the fact that it will seek an exemption for survivors of domestic abuse, so that councils will be compelled to offer life-time tenancies to those victims being offered local authority housing. Clearly, this addresses the concern that, in being offered a less secure tenancy, it would be for the victim to take the difficult step of moving away from the home where the abuse is taking place. I am very much in support of this variation. In fact, I share the conviction that lifetime tenancies should be reinstated for all tenants, not just for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

However, my support for the Bill—I echo many of the comments that have been made in the Chamber—is diluted by the fact that it does not cover housing association tenants, and this appears to be a major flaw, an inconsistency in recognising the needs of such victims. As Lord Bourne and the hon. Members for Bath (Wera Hobhouse) and for Northampton South (Andrew Lewer) said, comprehensive action is required.

On many occasions in recent weeks, we have debated the huge homelessness crisis facing this country. It is worth reminding the House that insecurity of tenure—fixed tenancies do not provide security—is a contributory factor in so many cases, but for women in particular and all victims for that matter, that leads to the plight of homelessness.

Although I welcome the Bill, I very much hope that the Minister will listen to my points, particularly those on social housing, and include them. None the less, I very much welcome the spirit of the Bill.