Domestic abuse victims to get priority housing status so they can leave perpetrator
2 May 2020, 16:28 | Updated: 2 May 2020, 17:15
Domestic abuse victims in the UK will be given priority status to access social housing so they don't need to live with their perpetrator through the coronavirus lockdown.
Announcing the new measure at the daily Downing Street press conference, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government's Domestic Abuse Bill would create "the first ever legal definition of domestic abuse".
He said that through the Bill - which had its second reading in Parliament next week - the Government would "be ensuring that the victims of domestic violence get the priority need status that they need to access to local housing services much more easily".
He added: "This is a fully-funded commitment which will mean that no victim of domestic violence has to make the unbearable choice between staying somewhere that they know is unsafe or becoming homeless."
He said the Government had already announced an extra £15 million to strengthen its support, with an extra £16 million going directly to refuge services.
In addition, a package of more than £76 million in new funding was announced "to support the most vulnerable in society", including survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, vulnerable children, and victims of modern slavery.
"This additional support will ensure more safe spaces and accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, and the recruitment of additional councillors for victims of sexual violence," Mr 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.
Mr Jenrick said: "We know that some refuges have had to reduce, or even to cancel the services that they would want to provide during the pandemic.
"This funding will help them to meet the challenges posed in this national emergency, and to continue to help those that desperately need support."
Addressing victims of domestic violence directly, Mr Jenrick 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."
Additionally, more than 5,400 rough sleepers known to councils have been offered safe accommodation in the past month, Mr Jenrick said, as he announced Dame Louise Casey will lead a new taskforce to tackle the issue.
The number of people who have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Friday rose to 28,131, up by 621.
The death toll has edged closer to that of Italy, which at 28,236 is the highest in Europe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
And the number of daily tests both concluded and sent out in the last 24 hours dropped to 105,937.
It comes as questions were raised over how tests are being counted after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday he had met his target for 100,000 Covid-19 tests per day.