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House of Lords written question – answered on 3rd November 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Shadow Leader of the House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the research conducted by Women’s Aid on the number of women’s refuge spaces for victims of domestic violence; and what plans they have to support the remaining women's refuge centres in dealing with increased demand for their services.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of research conducted by Women’s Aid on the number of bed spaces for victims of domestic violence in the south west of England; and what assessment they have made of the impact on any shortfall on the existing services in Stroud.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much funding was allocated to women’s refuge centres in (1) May 2010, and (2) September 2014.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many women’s refuge centres were open in (1) May 2010, and (2) September 2014.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the names and locations of all women's refuge centres in the United Kingdom.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to create a national network of women’s refuges for victims of domestic violence.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government)

The Government does not record the number of or the location of refuges in England. Decisions on the provision of accommodation for victims of domestic abuse are for local authorities: we expect local authorities to commission services based on the needs of their communities, taking account of locally available data sources.

The Government does not directly fund women’s refuges. However, this Government has invested £6.5 billion investment to help vulnerable people through housing related support. A proportion of this money will be used by local authorities to commission refuge services. In addition we have made over £500 million available since 2010 to local authorities and the voluntary sector to prevent and tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. This funding will also help the most vulnerable in society, including victims of domestic abuse.

The dynamics of domestic abuse mean that accommodation can play an important role in the resolution of interpersonal abuse and conflict. This is why the homelessness legislation in England provides one of the strongest safety nets in the world for families with children and for vulnerable people who become homeless through no fault of their own.

There is a range of support for victims of domestic abuse. Some victims will be accommodated in refuges, but Sanctuary Schemes and mainstream local authority accommodation may be an option for others, while some victims will pursue independent solutions with help and advice from support schemes as necessary.

We also fund UKRefugesOnline a UK wide database of domestic violence services which supports the national 24 hour free phone domestic violence helpline. This service enables those working with victims of domestic violence to identify appropriate services and potential refuge vacancies around the country so that victims can get the help they need as quickly as possible.

This Government has ring-fenced nearly £40 million of funding for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services until 2015. This funding is used to part-fund 54 multi-agency risk assessment conference co-ordinators and 144 independent domestic violence advisers. We have piloted and rolled out Clare’s Law and domestic violence protection orders; extended the definition of domestic abuse to cover controlling behaviour and teenage relationships; run two successful campaigns to challenge perceptions of abuse; and placed Domestic Homicide Reviews on a statutory footing to make sure lessons are learned from individual tragedies.

We are keeping this matter under review, and are keen to support best practice and greater joint working.

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