Theresa May vows end to 'postcode lottery' for domestic abuse victims
Theresa May has ordered councils to do more to protect domestic abuse victims and their children as she vowed to end the "postcode lottery" in support services.
The Prime Minister pledged a new legal duty for local authorities to provide secure homes for those affected by domestic violence, as she warned that the "abhorrent crime" had "no place in our country".
Councils in England are currently under no statutory obligation to house those fleeing violent or abusive relationships, meaning that victims and their families face varying levels of help depending on where they live.
But Mrs May said: "Today we are ending the postcode lottery by placing on local authorities a legal duty to deliver support, including secure housing, to survivors of domestic abuse and their children.
"Whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever the abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe."
Writing in The Sun, Mrs May promised that the new duty would be "backed by government funding to ensure councils have the resources to deliver".
Ministers have launched a new consultation to determine how much extra funding will be made available to councils and support groups to support the drive, which forms part of the Government's Domestic Abuse Bill.
The bill also pledges a new statutory definition of the crime to include economic abuse, which sees victims left without the financial means to leave abusive partners.
The Government is also pledging to appoint a new dedicated Domestic Abuse Commissioner to track progress on tackling the crime, and have said they will stop abusers from being able to cross-examine their victims in family courts.
The fresh plans have been given a cautious welcome by campaigners against domestic abuse.
Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of SafeLives, said: "No one harmed by domestic abuse should have to leave their home.
"We have long called for victims and their families to have the broadest range of housing options so they can choose to stay where they are and for it to be safe to do so.
"A new duty, properly funded, would be a welcome step and could help make the case for change at local level."
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: "This has the potential to end the postcode lottery for refuge places and could put these life-saving services on a secure financial footing for the first time."