March 2024

The government’s ‘British homes for British people’ proposal raises strong concerns from the VAWG sector, especially for by-and-for organisations that support marginalised groups. The proposed changes to the social housing allocation as a means to tackle a chronic lack of suitable social housing would create further barriers and discrimination towards survivors of domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG), preventing them from accessing safe and affordable housing at a time when local councils are on their knees, facing unprecedented financial difficulties and demand for social housing. Marginalised groups will be greatly disproportionately impacted. Migrant survivors of VAWG, in particular, will be forced to face another barrier in the already existing hostile environment.

Safe, affordable housing – including social homes – for women and children escaping VAWG is an urgent priority. Our organisations see first hand the devastating cost of the housing crisis on survivors, who are often forced to ‘choose’ between homelessness and housing insecurity or remaining with a perpetrator, leaving them in trapped situations. But the government’s proposals to restrict access to the social housing register based on the number of years households have lived in the UK, or within their local area, will do nothing to tackle this. Instead, survivors will face even greater restrictions to accessing the severe lack of social housing and these policies will contribute further to the already existing hostile environment facing migrant women. It is highly concerning that the changes will remove access or social housing for migrant women who do have recourse to public funds, such as refugees, despite their eligibility being protected by international law.

Migrant survivors of VAWG, once again, will have to desperately try to navigate in a system that already affects them disproportionately. There is little relevance between the policy and the needs of survivors. Children will also be heavily implicated, creating further instability and uncertainty to their safety. Rather than implementing the urgent changes survivors need to exempt them from  restrictive local connection requirements, the Government has chosen to prioritise further consultation on these divisive measures.

LAWRS, along with other organisations in the VAWG sector urge the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to prioritise building more social housing and delivering the reforms that women and children experiencing VAWG desperately need. The Government should urgently publish its response to the local connection restrictions and joint tenancy reform, and deliver its commitment to empower survivors with the ability to decide what is best for them – remaining in their own home or moving to another home – rather than proceeding with harmful changes to social housing allocations. Most importantly, urgent measures should be taken to provide all survivors, namely those with no recourse to public funds, with equal access to life-saving domestic abuse support and safe accommodation.

Read our full statement here