Domestic Violence: Housing

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Mohammad Yasin Mohammad Yasin Labour, Bedford

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions he has had with the Minister for Women and Equalities on steps the Government is taking to protect domestic violence victims who face barriers to accessing housing as a result of rent arrears accrued.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Secretary of State meets regularly with all his ministerial colleagues.

We have taken steps to improve access to social housing for victims of domestic abuse.

Statutory guidance issued in 2012 encourages local authorities to give additional preference (high priority) to people who require urgent rehousing as a result of domestic abuse, while guidance issued in 2013 advises authorities to make appropriate exceptions to any local connection test for people moving into an area to escape violence.

In November 2018 the government issued new statutory guidance for local authorities to improve access to social housing by victims of domestic abuse who are in a refuge or other form of safe temporary accommodation: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/753667/Improving_access_to_social_housing_for_victims_of_domestic_abuse.pdf

The guidance makes clear that local authorities are expected not to apply residency tests for those victims who have fled to another district, sets out how they can give appropriate priority to victims, and encourages them to use their existing powers to support victims to remain safely in their homes if they choose to do so.

Through the Domestic Abuse Bill we are protecting the security of tenure of social tenants with a lifetime tenancy who have to flee their home to escape domestic abuse.

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