The British government has launched 12 weeks of consultations into proposals to place a legal duty on local councils to deliver support to survivors of domestic abuse.
The government accepts there are variations in provision across the country and Prime Minister Theresa May said the initiative will end that postcode lottery because local authorities will have to provide secure housing and other support to domestic abuse survivors and their children. “Whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever the abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe,” she added.
Communities secretary James Brokenshire said funding will be provided to place the services on a long-term, sustainable footing. The exact level will be determined during consultation with interested parties.
Sandra Horley, CEO of Refuge, said: “[The initiative] could provide vital protection to tens of thousands of women and children who experience violence and intimidation in the home.”
But chairman of the House of Commons housing, communities and local government committee, Clive Betts, cautioned: “Simply placing a new obligation on local authorities will not be enough without adequate funding. If it results in further financial pressures on front-line services, and reduces the ability to fund preventative programmes, then it will not be as effective as it should be.”
Focusing on the effect on children, Rachel Dickinson, president of the Association of Directors for Children’s Services, said a public health-style response is the only sensible way forward in tackling the issue.
“Experiencing parental conflict and domestic abuse can have a life-long impact on children and young people’s mental health, their educational attainment and the success of their own future relationships.
“Concerted action – and funding – is needed to ensure they can access emotional, psychological and practical support when and where it is required to break generational cycles of trauma and abuse,” she said. Dickinson also suggested the government’s proposed funding package does not reflect the scale, reach or severity of the matter.