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Councils to be under new legal duty to provide support to victims as Domestic Abuse Bill receives Royal Assent

Councils will from this summer have a legal duty to provide support such as therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation, including refuges, to victims of domestic abuse and their children, after the Domestic Abuse Bill this week (29 April) received Royal Assent.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said councils had been given a share of £125m to fund the new duty, including commissioning additional vital support services for victims and improving links between existing local services.

The new duty is expected to come into force during the summer, but councils were asked to begin work from 1 April.

The Act will also give those who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse priority need for accommodation secured by the council, “helping to ensure victims do not remain with their abuser for fear of not having a roof over their head”.

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The MHCLG said that under the Act, victims of domestic abuse with a lifetime social tenancy who need to flee their current home to escape abuse, and are granted a new council tenancy, will have their security of tenure protected in their new social home.

Minister for Rough Sleeping & Housing, Eddie Hughes, said: “Domestic abuse is a heinous crime and it is vital that victims and their children are given the support they need to recover and rebuild their lives.

“The new duty on councils through the landmark Domestic Abuse Act will ensure that no one is turned away from life-saving support.”

The Act also:

  • Introduces for the first time an all-purpose legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse
  • Establishes in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and sets out the Commissioner’s functions and powers;
  • Bans perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the civil and family courts in England and Wales;

The MHCLG Statutory Guidance and Regulation consultation process will follow Royal Assent of the Domestic Abuse Bill, after which the new regulations will be laid in Parliament.

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