Violence Against Women (No Recourse Scheme)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Health and Wellbeing – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 4th December 2008.

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Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour 2:15 pm, 4th December 2008

To ask the Scottish Executive when it will publish the report from the short-life working group examining options for assisting women who have no recourse to public funds, referred to by the Minister for Communities and Sport on 29 May 2008 ( Official Report , col 9252). (S3O-5092)

Photo of Stewart Maxwell Stewart Maxwell Scottish National Party

Since the last meeting of the short-life working group, on 27 May 2008, officials have been working with the Home Office on the no recourse scheme. Officials consulted the short-life working group on the draft proposal and comments from the group were fed into the Home Office at the end of October.

The Home Office will make an announcement about the scheme in the near future, and I have asked that the short-life working group provide a report on progress on the Home Office scheme in Scotland once it has begun operating.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

I am sure that the minister will agree that we are keen to see the detail of that. The facts on the ground suggest that there is hugely inadequate provision for families. In Glasgow, five families were provided for but another 42 families were not, and Glasgow Women's Aid suffered a loss as a result of that.

Will the minister assure me that there will be a speedy conclusion to putting forward options to rectify the situation? Will he further assure me that, given that only five local authorities refer to domestic abuse as a priority in their single outcome agreements, he will ensure that all local authorities make it a priority?

Photo of Stewart Maxwell Stewart Maxwell Scottish National Party

I share the member's concern on the issue of women who find themselves in that difficult situation. It is disappointing that the Home Office has taken so long to implement the scheme. We originally hoped that the scheme would be in operation by the autumn of 2008, but I am assured that an announcement is due very soon and that the scheme will begin in the new year. I hope that that is the case. We will do all that we can to ensure that the scheme is in operation and helps some of the folk who are in difficulties because of the no recourse problem.

The member is aware that we have doubled the funding for work on violence against women to £44 million over the next three years. That has been widely welcomed and shows the Government's commitment to ensuring that women who have to leave their homes as a result of violence, or who find themselves in difficulty because of other problems with their children with regard to domestic abuse, get the protection and services that they require.

I am sure that that is a priority for all councils throughout Scotland. All the single outcome agreements are being renegotiated for the next year, and councils throughout Scotland are signed up to ensuring that we achieve the national outcomes, which include the outcome that people should be able to live free from violence and in safer and more secure homes.