PCB Solicitors welcome housing priority for domestic abuse victims

PCB Solicitors’ have welcomed the announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government that victims who are homeless due to domestic abuse will be prioritised for accommodation from their local council.

Ruth Harris head of the family department said: ‘Previously, it was a requirement for victims to be assessed as being ‘vulnerable’ as a result of domestic abuse to be classified as having a priority need. Following the Government announcement victims of domestic abuse will be prioritised for accommodation by local councils such as Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire.

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes, stated: ‘Domestic abuse is a heinous crime and it is a tragedy that some victims remain with their abusers for fear of not having a roof over their head. Today’s change will mean all councils must find accommodation for victims who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse – ensuring they have a safe space to rebuild their lives.’

The Office for National Statistic reports that Police recorded crime data showed an increase in offences flagged as domestic abuse-related during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There has generally been an increase in demand for domestic abuse victim services during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly affecting helplines as lockdown measures eased; this does not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of victims, but perhaps an increase in the severity of abuse being experienced, and a lack of available coping mechanisms such as the ability to leave the home to escape the abuse, or attend counselling.

Ruth Harris head of the family department said: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on victims of domestic abuse; this announcement is a positive step but we would like to see more pro-active action from local authorities and Police forces as there are still improvements and lessons that can be learnt in protecting victims of domestic abuse.’

If you are a victim of domestic abuse then you should contact the Police or West Mercia Women’s Aid on 0800 783 1359.

The advice from the family team at PCB Solicitors is to get help at the earliest opportunity, victims of domestic abuse will likely qualify for Legal Aid funding and PCB Solicitors can assist in obtaining a Non-Molestation and Occupation Order to protect victims from the risk of future harm. You can contact PCB Solicitors on 01952 403000 or 01743 248148.