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Lack of social housing harming domestic abuse survivors, says homelessness charity

Holyrood

Lack of social housing harming domestic abuse survivors, says homelessness charity

The lack of social housing is preventing people from leaving abusive partners, Shelter Scotland has warned.

Between April 2019 and March 2020, 4,832 homelessness applications were made to local authorities where domestic abuse was given as a reason for leaving their old address.

One survivor of domestic abuse has said she felt forced to go back to her ex-partner after being sent to a hostel.

She said: “It wasn’t safe. There were fights every night. The noise was horrendous. Doors would be slammed. I could even hear punches being thrown. Men would chap on my door. It was really threatening and it made me really ill being there. 

“I ended up going back to my ex-partner. I was never more at risk of being hurt.”

The Scottish Parliament is currently considering legislation which will empower the police to ban abusive partners from entering the home of the victim.

The Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill will create domestic abuse protection notices and orders, as well as provide a reason for landlords to end a tenancy if they plan to continue letting the property to the abused person.

But Shelter Scotland says where this is not an option, social housing must be made easily accessible to survivors of abuse.

Director Alison Watson said: “Scotland needs 37,100 new social homes to be built in the next five years if we’re to start reducing need.

“We support efforts to change the law so that wherever possible survivors of domestic abuse can stay in their homes, and perpetrators are made to leave.

“But where that isn’t an option access to social housing must be made easier and the only way to do that is to build the homes Scotland needs.”

The Scottish Government has said providing safe, affordable homes is a priority, while preventing women and children from having to leave their homes would also provide protection.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: “If passed, the new Domestic Abuse Bill will provide the police and courts with powers to make emergency notices and orders to protect those at risk. 

“Our ‘Equally Safe’ strategy, developed in partnership with COSLA, contains a number of commitments in a number of areas including housing, with the overall aim of preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls in Scotland.

“Ensuring everyone has access to a safe, affordable place to call home is a priority for this government, and since 2007 we have delivered almost 96,000 affordable homes, over 66,000 of which were for social rent.”

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