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What is the issue?

When social services’ support is provided to families with no recourse to public funds, domestic abuse is often a key feature in causing their situation of homelessness. This was identified in a 2015 research report by the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at Oxford University.

The Destitution Domestic Violence Concession may enable some victims to access benefits and housing assistance whilst they are making a claim for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. However, this is not available to all victims who experience domestic abuse and there is no legal aid to help other groups identify what their alternative immigration options may be.

There are also significant gaps in statutory support for victims of domestic abuse with no recourse to public funds who do not have children in their care and who do not have care needs arising from a disability, illness or mental health condition.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is currently going through Parliament but contains no provisions to extend the scope of the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession or ensure that provisions is made to fill the current gaps in statutory support for victims who have no recourse to public funds. The Government announced a £1.5 million Support for Migrant Victims (SMV) pilot fund to cover the cost of supporting victims with no recourse to public funds, which will be used to inform future decisions about support for migrant victims of domestic abuse, but this does not go far enough to address this urgent need.

 

What needs to change

We recommend that the Government:

  • Provides adequate funding for refuge/specialist accommodation provision to enable people with no recourse to public funds who are fleeing domestic abuse to access a place of safety where they can be supported to access legal advice and establish a sustainable outcome to their situation of destitution.
  • Makes legal aid available to enable all victims of domestic abuse to get advice about their immigration options and to make the appropriate applications.

 

What we have done

We have responded to government consultations on the Domestic Abuse Bill to set out the challenges faced by victims with no recourse to public funds, including the lack of access to accommodation and immigration advice, and the impact that the latter has on councils when support is provided to victims by social services.

 

Submissions