To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the difficulties victims of domestic abuse experience in (a) severing contracts for services to which their abusers are a party and (b) in continuing to have access to those services; and if she will take steps to strengthen the rights of victims in such circumstances.
Tackling domestic abuse is a government priority and improving the response to economic abuse is integral to this. Economic abuse is now recognised in law as part of domestic abuse included in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. This is in recognition of the devastating impact it can have on victims’ lives. In July 2022, we published our Domestic Abuse Statutory Guidance which contains specific information relating to economic abuse and includes examples which will assist relevant parties in recognising economic abuse.
We continue to work closely with and fund organisations that seek to promote awareness of economic abuse and improve public and private sector response. Our Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan doubled our investment to £200,000 of funding per annum up to March 2025.
The Government has provided £567,000 of funding between 2018-2022 to Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA), an organisation that raises awareness of economic abuse and supports victims. Money Advice Plus, in partnership with SEA, run the Financial Support Line for Victims of Domestic Abuse. It offers specialist advice domestic abuse victims in financial difficulty to move forward with economic safety and may be able to support in situations where victims wish to sever contracts for services to which their abusers are a party.
The Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan also calls for more financial sector firms to sign up to the Financial Abuse Code to act to prevent economic abuse and help deliver the best possible outcomes for victims and survivors. In January 2023, The Fairness Group published the Economic Abuse Toolkit, developed alongside SEA and Money Advice Plus. The toolkit brings together proven best practices allowing businesses to recognise and support customers who are experiencing economic abuse.