Amendment 146A

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 8 February 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top Chair, Public Services Committee, Chair, Public Services Committee 6:00, 8 February 2021

My Lords, I am pleased to support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Young, and Amendment 147. Both deal with being clear about what the Government have sought to do in Clause 71 to extend to survivors or victims of domestic abuse the priority need for homelessness. It is very clear that women who are leaving or seeking to leave an abusive relationship need to be seen as a priority. I am delighted that the Government acknowledge that.

I am concerned that, with both these amendments, the Government are undoing some of their good intent by not making sure that those who live in a multigenerational household are not able to ask someone else to be their advocate in front of the housing department or homelessness unit. Someone is fleeing the locality that they live and are well known in to escape their abuser, but they are not automatically seen as being in priority need when using either of those routes.

I understand that the Government are reluctant to keep opening the category of priority need, because there is not enough housing and because waiting lists for social housing are getting longer, not shorter. But I think that they need to be clear in their will to support women who have experienced domestic abuse in both Amendments 146A and 147. I know that they will want to move words and so on, but I feel that they need a general acceptance that women who experience domestic abuse should be treated by the local authority homelessness unit as being in priority need. They need to make sure that that happens in the two cases that these amendments deal with.

It is very straightforward to accept this sort of amendment. I just hope that the Government recognise what the APPG is saying and what the Welsh Government have achieved in their legislation. We need that acknowledgement in our legislation in England. The sooner they do this, the more it will reassure people that they are going to get the sort of priority need that they are looking for, if they have been abused. The trauma of being abused is one that most of us can only imagine. I have met many of these women and this issue has been raised with me, on numerous occasions. I hope that the Government find a way to meet the aspirations of these women, so that they get the independent housing that they require of their local authority.