Councils in England fail to provide safe homes to around 1,960 households fleeing domestic abuse, Crisis found.
Domestic abuse survivors are being forced to choose between sleeping on the streets or returning to their abusers because of local authority rules, a damning report has warned.
Each year, councils in England fail to provide safe homes to around 1,960 households fleeing domestic abuse after deeming them not vulnerable enough for help, a joint investigation by Crisis and parliament’s group for ending homelessness revealed on Thursday.
This is because – under the current system – not everyone escaping domestic abuse is considered “priority need” for help finding permanent housing, they said.
“It’s beyond heart-breaking that people fleeing for their lives are being forced to choose between homelessness or returning to their abusers because the services that should have found them a safe home don’t consider them a priority,” said Labour MP Neil Coyle, who leads parliament’s group for ending homelessness.
“The current system of asking survivors to provide evidence of their vulnerability is incredibly insensitive and traumatic, and often impossible to do.”
MPs have heard “horrifying stories” of victims being asked to return home to gather evidence of their abuse, Coyle added.
One in five of Crisis’ female members have been made homeless by domestic abuse.
Earlier this month, Theresa May announced plans to ensure all abuse survivors have access to support in emergency refuges – but campaigners are calling for the Domestic Abuse Bill to be extended to guarantee victims a more permanent home.
Rebecca Pritchard, director of services at Crisis, said: “It’s simply not good enough that survivors are being forced to sleep rough or are ending up stuck in temporary accommodation unable to move on with their lives because they’re being refused help to find a safe settled home.”
The report comes on the same day the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman called on Oadby and Wigston Borough Council to pay a domestic abuse victim £500 in compensation after it refused to accept a homelessness application from her and her children.
A government spokesperson said: “We recently announced that for the first time ever, councils will be legally required to provide vital support in secure accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire pledged over £90 million for this.
“This will end the variation in support and ensure that all families are able to recover and overcome their experiences.”
Original Article available here: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/domestic-abuse-homelessness-council-crisis_uk_5ceea047e4b07666546f4c4c?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAACsBYDk2HIByC94HPNNvVNWyTNKtYYMCzs4snxbdacOg_VNPhjDvTkfn8RKOoPtKYb9CGmpZ0Mdlk5JdQGmVAu9miypHMyrhlrq0BgL8QeF8VlU3Mr2KZxfmn4AhaIR96CNXsYV1mKaGb6K0bYwuWiz8bf7v-V01ujhEbamB6KNC
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its review of the shortage occupation list (SOL) today, adding veterinarians, web designers and architects.
Today the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its review of the shortage occupation list (SOL). Alongside some occupations which have been added to the list – veterinarians, web designers and architects – many have been expanded to include all roles within that occupation.
This means the SOL will cover around 9% of jobs in the labour market, compared to one per cent under the previous list.
The committee has recommended broadening the SOL to include all roles in occupations such as medical practitioners, nurses, programmers and software development professionals. This recognises the increasing difficulty in filling such roles.
The MAC was asked to consider the addition of Northern Irish and Welsh SOLs to the existing UK list and Scotland-only SOL. In principle, the MACagrees that devolved SOLs should be created.
The MAC also recommends a review of what role the SOL would play in a future immigration system.
MAC Chair Professor Alan Manning said:
Today’s labour market is very different to the one we reviewed when the last SOL was published in 2013. Unemployment is lower and employers in various industries are facing difficulties in finding skilled people to fill their vacancies.
That is why we have recommended expanding the SOL to cover a range of occupations in health, information and engineering fields.
However, our recommendations are clearly only applicable under the current immigration system, while EU free movement remains. We are recommending a full review of the SOL once there is a clearer picture of what the future immigration system will look like.
The review’s other recommendations include:
- a consideration of medium-skilled occupations which may become eligible for the SOL in the future system
- the inclusion of Gaelic teachers in the Scotland-only SOL
- pilots to expand the evidence-base on what might work in migration policy for remote communities
- removing the restriction on chef visas, which currently excludes those offering a takeaway service. This is in recognition of the changing nature of the hospitality sector and with the aim of future-proofing the list
Much more needs to be done to safeguard children in domestic violence cases, writes Christina Blacklaws, president of the Law Society of England and Wales
As a former family law solicitor, your recent article on how the family courts treat victims of domestic abuse and their children (15 May) struck a chord with me. As you point out, research by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme found that four children have been killed in the past five years by parents with a history of domestic violence who were given access to them by the courts.
These tragic figures highlight a failure in the system. While the government’s draft domestic abuse bill marks an important step in the right direction, much more needs to be done to safeguard children in domestic violence cases.
The government’s cuts to legal aid in 2012 have left many victims of abuse unrepresented in court, often unable to argue their case. Updating the legal aid means test and reinstating legal aid for early advice will help to ensure that domestic abuse is identified at the earliest possible point and both victims and their children receive the access to justice they deserve.
President, The Law Society of England and Wales
Original Article available here: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/may/28/victims-of-domestic-abuse-need-legal-aid
The Home Office has “significantly reduced” the amount of data sharing it carries out with other agencies in the wake of the Windrush scandal, according to the chief inspector of immigration and borders.
In a report on the department’s approach to illegal working, David Bolt (pictured) says the Home Office had said in July 2018 that it would halt “proactive data sharing with other government departments and delivery partners for people of all nationalities aged over 30, initially for three months”.
“At the time of the inspection (late last year), this was still paused, with no indication of when it might end,” it says, adding: “Managers were taking a more cautious approach to the production and circulation of performance data, and this had affected morale.
“Meanwhile, proactive data sharing, engagement with partners, and operations were running at a significantly reduced rate.”
The report says the exposure of the wrongful treatment of British residents “fundamentally altered the environment in which immigration enforcement operated”.
Theresa May’s administration was rocked by the fallout from the “hostile environment” she introduced for undocumented migrants, many of whom were wrongly identified as being in the country illegally.
They were denied access to healthcare, employment and housing, with data was passed to the Home Office from schools, the NHS and the police for enforcement purposes.
UKAuthority reported last year how two schemes – immigration checks by banks using Home Office data and the NHS sharing patients’ details – had been suspended.
Fresh evidence for the scaling back of data sharing has been made public by a freedom of information response to the online publication Byline Times.
In 2016, before Windrush hit the headlines, data was shared between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Home Office 54,874 times over a six-month period. But the website revealed that this total fell to just 3,470 occasions between November 2018 and April this year.
Zrinka Bralo, chief executive of the group Migrants Organise, told Byline Times she cautiously welcomed the development.
“I would like to think this is a sign that the Home Office is no longer prioritising it (the hostile environment),” she said.
In his report, Bolt acknowledges the “significant” effect on enforcement, as targets were abolished, removals of illegal workers fell and other agencies increasingly resisted helping immigration officers.
Enforcement teams faced growing attempts to disrupt their work, with threatening behaviour, verbal abuse and protests, it says.
Original article available here: https://www.ukauthority.com/articles/home-office-cuts-immigration-data-sharing/