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29 April, 2020 Open access

Home Affairs Select Committee calls for extension of priority need for settled accommodation to survivors of domestic abuse

New report on the Home Office's response to domestic abuse and risk of harm in the home during the coronavirus outbreak also calls for access to state support to be extended to any individual in need, regardless of immigration status

The Home Affairs Select Committee has called for the extension of priority need for settled accommodation to survivors of domestic abuse.

Introducing its report, Domestic abuse and risks of harm within the home, the second report to be published during its inquiry into the Home Office’s preparations for and response to COVID-19, the Committee highlights that -

‘The UK has followed the global pattern of rising domestic abuse risks during the crisis - with calls and contacts to helplines have increased markedly and evidence suggesting that incidents are becoming more complex and serious, with higher levels of physical violence and coercive control.’

While welcoming the government’s early response to the outbreak - through its public information campaign announced on 11 April 2020 and additional funding of £750 million made available to charities - the Committee calls for further urgent action to support survivors of domestic abuse, including for the government to -

In addition, the Committee highlights evidence that its predecessor Committee heard in 2018 (and that was reproduced in its Ninth Report of Session 2017-19) that some BME women are more vulnerable to culturally-specific types of abuse such as honour-based violence or FGM, and that women who have an insecure immigration status are particularly vulnerable. As a result, the Committee recommends that -

‘It is vital that BME and specialist services get the funding they need at this time, and any individual with ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) status should, following referral from a domestic abuse service, be entitled to access state support during the coronavirus crisis, regardless of their immigration status. We will look further at issues relating to NRPF status in our future work.’

NB - the Home Secretary Priti Patel has set out the government’s current position on the ‘no recourse to public funds’ restriction during the COVID-19 outbreak in a letter to the Chairs of the Home Affairs Committee and Work and Pensions Committee (28 April 2020).

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report, Home Office preparedness for Covid-19 (Coronavirus): domestic abuse and risks of harm within the home, is available from parliament.uk