A new fund has been introduced to provide people experiencing domestic abuse with one-off payments to assist them to flee from their abuser and to help secure a stable, independent future. The two payments are funded by the Home Office and are administered by Women’s Aid. Both payments are available to people with no recourse to public funds who are experiencing domestic abuse.
The payments will provide an essential lifeline to enable people to flee from perpetrators of domestic abuse but do not replace the need for councils to consider their duty to provide accommodation and financial support when a survivor of domestic abuse with no recourse to public funds is at risk of homelessness or destitution.
What payments will be available?
The following one-off payments will be available to anyone over the age of 16 years old:
- Flee fund - a person who does not have the financial means to leave their abuser will be able to apply for a one-off payment of up to £500 for essential items such as groceries, nappies or support with new accommodation to help them and their children flee to safety
- Future fund - a further one-off payment of up to £2,500 may be available to help secure a stable, independent future, such as putting down a deposit for rental accommodation
The funds are currently open until 31 March 2024 and applications need to be made to Women’s Aid through a network of local frontline services in England and Wales including organisations, helplines and caseworkers who have a specialist understanding of domestic abuse. Details of referral organisations, the full eligibility criteria, and information about the application process can be found on the Women’s Aid website.
What support can a council provide?
The Domestic Abuse statutory guidance is clear that councils will need to provide accommodation and financial support to families with no recourse to public funds:
If a victim of domestic abuse has children, local authorities have a duty to provide financial support and/or accommodation under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 to safeguard the welfare of those in need, regardless of their immigration status or that of their parents. (Paragraph 207)
For adults without children in their care, councils can only provide accommodation and financial support to survivors of domestic abuse who have no recourse to public funds when they have care and support needs. When a person does not meet the eligibility criteria for care and support, adult social care will need to consider whether the power to meet non-eligible care and support needs is engaged.
Survivors of domestic abuse without children in their household and who cannot be accommodated by adult social care would need to be signposted to alternative forms of support and those who are unable to access other assistance, such as Home Office asylum support, may be able to access the Support for Migrant Victims Scheme, which is currently funded until March 2025.
In nearly all cases, migrant survivors of domestic abuse are likely to need signposting to an immigration adviser to get advice about their options. Some people may be able to make an application that will be decided quickly by the Home Office, such as the Migrant Victims Domestic Abuse Concession (formerly DDVC) or a change of conditions to lift a 'no recourse to public funds' condition. However, these options will not be available to all survivors of domestic abuse, with some needing to make immigration applications that could take a long time to be determined by the Home Office.
Councils can refer to our support for migrant families webtool and practice guidance for further information about assessing need and providing support to people with no recourse to public funds, including those experiencing domestic abuse.