Assess the impact of welfare reforms on survivors of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Jess Phillips Jess Phillips Shadow Minister (Home Office) 4:45 pm, 16th June 2020

I understand, but about a year ago, I asked how many people had asked for split payments, and obviously the answer was, “We don’t collect that data”—the Government literally were not collecting the data nationally. When I asked them to collect that data, please, we saw that very few people are currently asking for split payments. That is not because people do not want some of their own money coming into their own hands; it is because the current system is not safe for having split payments. Split payments by default is a way of protecting people.

On the other equality areas that the Minister talks about, I totally take the point that saying that victims of domestic abuse do not have to repay the loans opens things up to care leavers. I am okay with that. If care leavers think that they cannot cope when we think about the universal credit five-week-wait loan, I would live with that. I think we need to look at all vulnerable groups. We are here to talk about the Domestic Abuse Bill, so I am leading chiefly in regard, but I am okay with other vulnerable groups not having to repay the universal credit loan. If anything, covid-19 has proved to us that the five-week wait is too much.

We can sit here and say that there are more than ever, but the reality on the ground is that victims are telling us that they cannot move out of refuge—they cannot afford to become free. We have to listen to them. There have been times in the Department for Work and Pensions—I really hope that that era will break out again under the current Secretary of State—when their voices were heard. I truly hope that that will happen, so we will continue to push this.

I shall not bother pushing a Home Office Minister into a vote to change the policy of the Department for Work and Pensions. I recognise all our limitations in that regard. However, we will continue to focus on this. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.