02/05/2020 17:29 BST | Updated 03/05/2020 09:35 BST

Government Pledges £76m To Support Domestic Abuse Victims During Coronavirus Lockdown

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said for domestic abuse victims, lockdown meant “being trapped in a nightmare”.

Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more. 

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced £76m in emergency funding to help support survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Meanwhile, a change to rules will mean those facing homelessness as a result of fleeing domestic violence will be considered a priority for housing by their local council. 

The moves come after a report published by MPs on Monday revealed that calls to a national domestic abuse helpline had increased by 49% during lockdown, while killings had doubled. 

Jenrick said that, for domestic abuse victims, lockdown meant “being trapped in a nightmare”. 

Addressing this group directly, he said: “You are not alone, you do not have to stay at home, you can and should leave the home if you’re in danger.”

He added: “Our outstanding police will be there for you, they will help you.”

The Cabinet minister said he was aware that some refuges had been forced to reduce services or close their doors altogether during the lockdown. 

Housing, communities and local government secretary Robert Jenrick during a coronavirus press conference at Downing Street 

The new funding will ensure “more safe spaces and accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, and the recruitment of additional counsellors for victims of sexual violence,” Jenrick said.  

He added that the funding will also help frontline charities to offer virtual ways to assist those in need, including phone-based services.

The news comes as the UK looks ahead to its seventh week in lockdown.

After Boris Johnson announced on Thursday that the UK is “past the peak” of the Covid-19 outbreak, the prime minister will layout plans to ease the lockdown. 

Figures released by the government on Saturday showed that the coronavirus death toll rose by 621 over the previous 24 hours, bringing the UK death toll to 28,131. 

These figures now include the deaths of people in care homes and the community who have tested positive for Covid-19, not just hospital.