When it was introduced, the Domestic Abuse Bill was a groundbreaking piece of UK legislation. The Government have followed through on their commitment to update and future-proof the law by bringing this enhanced Bill to the House. In preparation for my role on the Bill Committee, I spoke with representatives of Gorwel to understand how domestic abuse presents itself in my constituency. Gorwel, which means “horizon”, provides support services for up to 500 victims of domestic violence and homelessness every week across north Wales. From my discussions with them, and my previous work with other support services, it is clear that domestic abuse cuts through every cultural, social and gender divide.
In Committee, we heard horrific evidence of violence and abuse. We sought to clarify and understand where support is most needed and how it can best be provided. The Bill is backed up with genuine funding to help our authorities tackle this horrendous offence. It provides the most comprehensive package of protection for victims of domestic abuse ever seen in the UK.
The Committee recognised, too, that there are some areas in which there are significant gaps in data and where more work is required to understand the best ways to support specific groups of victims, such as migrant victims. We heard much evidence from groups such as Southall Black Sisters and discussed the matter at length in Committee. We know that some migrant victims have no recourse to public funds and may not be eligible for the destitution domestic violence concession. The Government have already provided more than £1 million of support for those victims through the tampon tax fund. However, it is a complex and nuanced area of concern, with a wide variety of associated issues, such as immigration, trafficking, child protection and asylum.
We identified that there are still significant gaps in our understanding of the needs of the group. I therefore welcome the Government’s announcement of a £1.5 million pilot project, which not only will support migrant victims to find safe accommodation and services, but will be designed to assess gaps in provision and gather robust data to inform future funding. Improving our understanding of the needs of migrant victims will allow the Government to invest public money in providing appropriate support mechanisms that are fit for purpose.
I entered politics to help those who have no voice, and this landmark legislation has allowed me to do just that. It has been an honour to sit on the Domestic Abuse Bill Committee, and I am proud of the difference that the Government are making to the lives of people all across the UK.