Councils will be legally required to provide safe housing for survivors of domestic abuse under new measures announced today.
The Government said the new legal requirement will end variations in support across the country and provide better protection to thousands of people fleeing abusive and violent relationships.
Councils will also be required to work together with neighbouring councils to ensure domestic abuse services reflects the needs of local people.
Councils will also have to develop and publish strategies setting out the services available to survivors of domestic abuse for the first time.
Communities secretary, James Brokenshire, said: ‘For the first time ever, local authorities will have to legally assess level of support needed in their local area and match that need with vital, life-saving services – helping untold numbers of families to safely rebuild their lives, free from the threat of pernicious abuse.
‘These important measures will help us shape the future of the invaluable support survivors of domestic abuse and their children receive.’
The level of funding local authorities will receive to deliver these new statutory duties will be determined with stakeholders as part of the consultation process.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘Councils cannot tackle this crime on their own. It requires a range of public services, including the police to work together. It will be important that the final package ensures local authorities are supported in their work going forward, and provide flexibility to ensure services can be tailored to the needs of different areas.
’However our ambition must be to reduce the number of victims, with greater investment in early intervention and prevention schemes that helps stop domestic abuse occurring in the first place.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, added: ‘Refuge is delighted by the government’s decision to place a legal duty on local authorities to provide funding for accommodation based support for survivors of domestic abuse.
‘This has the potential to end the postcode lottery for refuge places and could put these life-saving services on a secure financial footing for the first time.’