To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth on 14 May (HL Deb, col 1502) whether they will legislate for an exemption to the no recourse to public funds exclusion for survivors of domestic abuse in the final version of the Domestic Abuse Bill; and what steps they are taking to ensure that the new legal duty on local authorities to provide emergency refuge accommodation will apply equally to all survivors.
On 15 May 2019, Victoria Atkins, together with the Minister for Immigration (Caroline Noakes), the Minister of State for Equalities (Baroness Williams of Trafford) and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice (Edward Argar) co-hosted a Round Table on migrant women affected by domestic abuse. Representatives from the sector were invited to discuss the issues facing migrant women affected by domestic abuse and the opportunities to tackle these issues.
The Government recognises that there are victims of domestic abuse who need additional support independently from that of their spouse / partner. We will continue to engage with domestic abuse survivors and representatives from the sector as part of our further work on the Bill.
The Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC), enables eligible migrants the option of claiming welfare benefits. This is to provide immediate crisis support to eligible migrants who claim to be victims of domestic abuse and are destitute as a result. To be eligible, applicants must be the spouse, or partner of someone who is British or permanently settled in the United Kingdom.
We have also provided Southall Black Sisters with £250 000, via the Tampon Tax, to pilot a fund to assist those who have no recourse to public funds and are suffering abuse. The findings from that project will help guide future policy reviews.
As part of our consultation on the future delivery of domestic abuse support in accommodation based services, we propose introducing a statutory duty, underpinned by statutory guidance which will clearly outline the expectations Government has for local authorities in delivering the duty. This includes outlining specific consideration of the support needs of diverse groups of victims.
We will work with local authorities to understand whether the new duty will incur additional costs and to ensure that local authorities are adequately funded to discharge it. We estimate an early broad annual cost of around £90 million which the Secretary of State communicated to the House of Commons on the 13 May. However, the full costs will be informed by the consultation and taken into the Spending Review.