Social Justice

'This will transform lives': London's Sadiq Khan invests £10m in safety for domestic abuse survivors

Thousands of survivors of domestic abuse are turned away from accommodation because councils do not have enough capacity. A new fund in London could help organisations protect vulnerable survivors.

domestic abuse, sadiq Khan, London

Domestic abuse survivors are being forced to stay with their abusers, thanks to the cost of living and a lack of safe accommodation. Image: GLA/Andrew Baker

Sadiq Khan is to invest £10m in safe accommodation for domestic abuse survivors, amid a national crisis of those fleeing domestic abuse being turned away due to a lack of capacity.

Organisations will be able to build new buildings and refurbish existing ones with £10m in funding, taken from the mayor of London’s affordable homes budget and money from central government. Groups working with disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, Black and minority groups, and those with large families will be prioritised for funding.

Councils have a duty to provide survivors of domestic abuse with safe accommodation. But over 15,000 households in England were turned away in 2022-23, with two-thirds of those because the local authority did not have enough housing.

“Safe accommodation is a lifeline for women and children across London, and having affordable housing to move on to after abuse is crucial,” said Nahar Choudhury, chief executive of Solace Women’s Aid.

“London’s housing shortage, and rising rental prices are making it harder for women to find suitable housing but our projects funded by the mayor have already helped over 100 women and children experiencing domestic abuse.”

Survivors are being forced to stay with their abusers, the Big Issue has reported, with charities warning the cost of living crisis puts financial independence further out of reach.

Women’s Aid estimates 62% of referrals to refuges were rejected in 2021-22 – but added that statistics do not tell the whole story of survivors who never reach out because services are full or cannot support their needs.

Khan’s funding for the Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Homes Programme (DASAHP) will allow support organisations to provide housing, but also services to help survivors rebuild their lives. It comes on top of £15m of cash already announced as part of the mayor’s Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy.

Two in three victims of domestic abuse are female, and police recorded 1.5 million domestic-abuse related incidents and crimes in England and Wales in the year to March 2022.

Khan told the Big Issue: “Combining investment in new homes from my Affordable Homes Programme with funding for specialist support will deliver safe, affordable accommodation and proper support for thousands of survivors of domestic abuse, especially those from underserved communities, all under one roof.  

“This flagship programme will not only transform the lives of survivors of domestic abuse, but will also support organisations and community projects in the capital to continue their lifesaving work – helping to build a better, safer London for all.” 

If you’re in need of housing support after experiencing domestic abuse advice is available from Shelter here.

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