05:00PM, Thursday 08 October 2020
Alison Bourne speaking at a Dash conference in March 2020
A new Government bill will grant funding for the Royal Borough to increase its vital support for victims of domestic abuse starting from April next year.
At the moment, some victims of domestic abuse are turned away from refuges and safe accommodation because their needs cannot be met.
The Domestic Abuse Bill, currently before Parliament, places a new duty on councils to assess and provide support and safe accommodation.
The Government will provide £6m of funding to be divided up between all the local authorities in England equally, leaving each with £50,000.
Kelly Tolhurst, minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, said: “The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill will mean for the first time councils will have a duty to provide support in safe accommodation for anyone fleeing abuse.
“The funding will help councils prepare for this new duty that will see thousands more survivors helped and a generation of their children able to grow up safely and free from fear of abuse.”
Alison Bourne, CEO of DASH, a domestic violence support charity, hopes that the Royal Borough will use its share of Government funding to introduce refuges and more safe housing.
“There are no refuges in the Royal Borough – the nearest are in Slough,” she said. “We also want to see some safe housing being introduced. A refuge isn’t for everyone.”
Safe housing refers to local authority-owned housing which is adapted to the needs of those escaping an abusive situation.
“We help set them up with recording doorbells, special locks and panic buttons, with a safety plan so [the abuser] can’t find them,” Alison said.
Local authorities are encouraged to start linking with other agencies in advance, such as police or health commissioners, and to ensure that staff receive the training they need to make the best out of this opportunity.
Extra support will be given to councils to help them to prepare in the run-up to April. Government is consulting with them on the best way to allocate funding.
Councillor Stuart Carroll, lead member for health, mental health and adultsocial care, said: “Any funding is welcome, but there are some questions about how far that additional funding will go.
“Domestic abuse is a very serious issue and the problem is unfortunately quite deep-rooted.
“Having looked into this in some detail with the Local Government Association, there is a need for central government to look at more consistent and sustainable funding.”
“We will be working with DASH to make sure every additional pound goes further, to hone in on aspects of prevention and identification, spotting the signs of domestic abuse,” said Cllr Carroll.
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