New law to support those fleeing domestic abuse 'often being ignored'.

Posted September, 2022

We were saddened to read that 'Local authorities frequently breach the legal duty to prioritise housing for abuse survivors, risking further danger or trauma'

From July 2021 the Domestic Abuse Act changed the law to prevent this from happening.

Jo Gough, RISE CEO said, “We are pleased that there are laws in place to support survivors when they are at their most vulnerable but these laws must be understood and enacted in order to be effective. It is not acceptable that survivors fleeing domestic abuse should be forced to choose between poor standard accommodation and staying with the perpetrator.”

The RISE housing team are working in partnership with Brighton & Hove Council to support survivors and families to access safe and suitable accommodation who are now considered as in ‘priority need’. We are mindful of the pressure on local housing and are working closely with colleagues in housing authorities to help them meet their legal responsibilities.

Further, we hear about barriers to moving clients who need to move to another property or area due to the risk posed by the perpetrator. Even within systems where all properties are managed by the same organisation, this can take many months, putting survivors and families at high risk of harm. We know from our many years of managing Brighton Women’s Refuge and our LGBT safe housing that those affected by domestic abuse need access to this essential housing when moving from temporary refuge accommodation so that survivors and families who wish to remain locally have a safe, stable home after they leave.

Policies and practice are slow to change in line with the new laws, and survivors and families need to be urgently prioritised when they are at risk of harm or death. Many of our cases are time sensitive, yet not always treated as such.

RISE is working towards providing a safe, welcoming refuge space and safe housing for those in need in Brighton and Hove and across Sussex. Refuge is necessary but never permanent - there needs to be safe and reliable pathways to adequate housing, now and in the future. We look forward to a day where our services are no longer needed but until then we will continue to work for freedom from domestic abuse.

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