Domestic Abuse Bill

Written evidence submitted by the APPG for Ending Homelessness (DAB69)

Domestic Abuse Bill - A Safe Home Campaign

Briefing on amendment NC13 

Key points

1. The APPG for Ending Homelessness - supported by Crisis, Women’s Aid, Refuge, the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, St Mungo’s, Surviving Economic Abuse, Shelter, Homeless Link, Depaul, Centrepoint, Hestia, Changing Lives, The Chartered Institute of Housing, the Connection at St Martin’s in the Field, The Latin American Women’s Aid and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence – is calling for everyone in a household who is homeless due to fleeing domestic abuse to have a legal right to a safe, permanent home.

2. There is a strong link between domestic abuse and homelessness. In 2018/19 23,570 households who accessed homelessness support had experienced or were at risk of, domestic abuse.   One in five of Crisis’ clients who are women report that domestic abuse was the direct cause of their homelessness. [1]    

3. Currently, unless a person experiencing domestic violence can prove they are "more vulnerable than an ordinary person would be if they became homeless" they would not be defined as being in priority need and eligible for an offer of settled housing.

4. Proving you are homeless due to domestic abuse can be distressing and re-traumatising for survivors. During the APPG’s inquiry into domestic abuse and homelessness in 2017 there was clear evidence of local authorities consistently failing to provide people fleeing from domestic abuse the help they need and of the ‘vulnerability test’ being used as a gatekeeping tool. Furthermore, research by the APPG for Ending Homelessness found that nearly 2,000 households fleeing domestic abuse in England each year are not being provided with this assistance because they are not considered in ‘priority need’ for housing. [2]

5. The cross-party amendment submitted by the APPG for Ending Homelessness’ Co-Chairs Bob Blackman and Neil Coyle would amend the Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure that anyone in a household who applies for homelessness assistance due to experiencing domestic abuse would qualify for automatic priority need and have a legal right to a safe, permanent home (NC13).

6. The Government have submitted their own amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill which would require survivors to physically make the application for homelessness assistance themselves to receive automatic priority need status. Both the domestic abuse and homelessness’ sectors have expressed concerns that the Government’s amendment fails to guarantee adequate protections to victims of domestic abuse.


7. The APPG’s amendment makes clear that priority need status for settled housing can be granted regardless of whether the homelessness application is made directly by someone in the household who was experiencing domestic abuse. This could mean for example that a parent or adult child, who is not the perpetrator of abuse, but is witnessing it, could make the application with the appropriate evidence on behalf of the person who is the victim of abuse. By comparison, the government’s amendment would not allow for other members of the households to make the application.

8. Allowing another household member to make the application provides a vital safeguarding mechanism for people fleeing abuse, as it will not always be safe for victims of abuse to make the application in person in the first instance.  This could be for example, because it too dangerous for them to leave their home until they know that they have somewhere safe to flee to. It might also be the case that they are unable to attend in person because they are receiving hospital treatment. What’s more it is already the case for other groups of people who are considered to be in automatic priority need for settled housing, that someone else in the household is able to make the application for them. For example, in the case of women who are pregnant, their partner is able to make the application on their behalf. We believe the same principle should be extended to those fleeing domestic abuse.


June 2020

[1] Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Live Tables on Homelessness. Available online

[2] This is based on an FOI from 168 English local authorities. The number of additional households is estimated based on data received from a data request and FOI to all English Councils. The data returned covered the first three quarters since the introduction of the HRA to account for households who had received both prevention and relief duty, and to inform understanding of the number of households expected to reach a Main Duty decision under the HRA. Responses were received from 168 local authorities (52%). Councils were categorised into quartiles based on their overall homelessness footfall with the data returned used to estimate a range of additional households for each quartile. These were summed to give an overall figure. Annual statistics for the HRA are not available and therefore seasonal variation was not accounted for. The estimated provided a low, mid and high figure with the mid-point figure used in this report. The full range suggests an indicative annual estimate of 970 (low), 1960 (mid) and 5190 (high) households


Prepared 11th June 2020