Victims of domestic violence could face a longer wait for the housing help they were promised by the government.
The Tories set out a new, more robust approach to tackling domestic abuse in their general election manifesto earlier this year, which included a pledge to help those who live in social housing and are fleeing dangerous situations transfer their lifetime tenancy from property to another.
But in response to a written question from Labour MP Kate Hollern, who asked when local authorities would be able to use their discretion to grant help in such situations, local government minister Marcus Jones admitted the government was “still looking” at the issue, despite its previous commitment.
He said: “Domestic abuse is a devastating crime and we are determined to ensure that women, regardless of their circumstances, should receive the support they need when they need it.
“Our manifesto included a commitment to ensure that those who have a lifetime tenancy and flee domestic violence are able to secure a new lifetime tenancy automatically. We are currently working on how we can deliver this, and an announcement will be made in due course.”
He said the government had already put measures in place to support victims, including a dedicated £40 million fund over four years to support refuges and other emergency accommodation and had published its new Priorities For Domestic Abuse Services strategy, “which sets out for the first time what local areas need to do to ensure an effective response to meeting the needs of all domestic abuse victims”.
But leading domestic abuse charities say more must be done to ensure the domestic abuse bill “has teeth” and improves the criminal response to incidents.
Blogging for HuffPost UK last month, Women’s Aid chief executive Katie Ghose said: ”The bill must reach beyond criminal justice to reflect the fact that only a third of women using community-based services and about half of women in refuge services had reported domestic abuse to the police, either by themselves or by a third party.
“Therefore, we must not forget the women who will never become a statistic. Women’s Aid will continue to work on behalf of these women by offering them the advice and support they need, while also calling for the bill to drive change across our society - in our health system, social services, schools, workplaces, and in our communities too.”