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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:40 pm on 19th March 2018.

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Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 6:40 pm, 19th March 2018

With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am grateful to have the opportunity to respond to the debate.

As I set out in my opening speech, the Bill forms part of the Government’s wider work to support victims of domestic abuse. Some £20 million of spending supports 80 projects with more than 2,000 bed spaces, helping to build a new life for domestic violence victims in safety and security. The Bill removes an impediment to victims of domestic abuse from being able to escape their abusive situation. It ensures that those who have a lifetime social tenancy and need to flee their current home so as to be safe from abuse are able to retain their lifetime tenancy in their new social home.

The Bill was improved in the Lords. As a result, it also covers a situation where a victim of abuse who is a joint lifetime tenant and wants to remain in their current home after the abuser has left or been removed can be granted a new sole lifetime tenancy in their social home. We have ensured that the Bill covers off circumstances in which a victim of domestic abuse who has or had a lifetime tenancy is seeking a new tenancy as a consequence of that abuse. This may be a short Bill but, as I am sure that we all agree, it is an important one with the potential to make a real change to victims’ lives.

A few questions were raised during the debate. In response to Toby Perkins—I will read this word for word, if I may—“A further Government amendment was made to the existing provisions of the Bill for victims who move to cover the scenario where the tenant has lost her security of tenure or no longer has a tenancy at all after she has fled her home. The amendment means that in this circumstance she will still be granted a lifetime tenancy in the new council property so long as the new tenancy is granted for reasons connected with the abuse.” I think that that answers his question.