Our Bill Will Protect Tenants Who Flee Their Homes To Escape Domestic Abuse
Throughout my career, I have sought to tackle burning injustices in society.
Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on the victims, their family and society as a whole.
This government is determined to do everything we can to support survivors.
I am proud that our Secure Tenancies Bill has passed its final hurdle in the House of Lords, and I take great pride in seeing my name attached to such a purposeful piece of legislation.
Last year, 5,086 social housing tenants fled their homes to escape domestic abuse.
Our Bill will ensure their security is protected for life if they leave an unsafe home.
This new legislation will give them a much-needed helping hand in some of the darkest hours of their lives.
It’s not just victims who have experienced physical violence who will benefit. Anyone who has suffered psychological, financial, sexual and emotional abuse from a partner or another family member will be protected by the new law.
According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales 2017, an estimated 1.9 million people in England and Wales suffered some form of domestic abuse last year.
The injustice of victims being left without support, will be prevented from happening again thanks to this Bill.
During its passage through the Lords I was struck, and at times deeply moved, by the support for this vital piece of legislation from all members and their commitment to get the Bill through.
In particular I would like to thank Baroness Lister for her contribution in getting the new law to a critical stage.
She rightly made the case for extending the protection to victims of domestic abuse who stay in their homes after the perpetrator has left or been removed as well as those who are forced to flee.
This will potentially give so many more survivors the help that they need.
My colleague, Baroness Bertin told the House that when those suffering from domestic abuse look to make the difficult decision to leave, they need to know that a better and safer place awaits.
I could not have agreed more. Their lives and their trust are in our hands, so any measures we can provide that will give them hope for the future, are of an absolute priority.
This Bill builds on a number of measures we have taken to provide specialist support to those who need it.
Last week we published our landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill which includes new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to better shield victims against further abuse.
Under our proposals, courts would have the power to impose a range of conditions on abusers to protect victims from further abuse.
And we are also providing £80million in funding up to 2020 to combat violence against women and girls, helping over 80 projects across England.
It is our responsibility to tackle domestic abuse head on.
And that’s exactly what we are doing – providing money where it is needed, publishing the draft Domestic Abuse Bill and the progress of the Secure Tenancies Bill.
Given the cross-party support I have received in the House of Lords, I truly believe the Secure Tenancies Bill is an example of Parliament operating at its best – and I am looking forward to it becoming law and the hope it will offer so many victims of domestic abuse.
Lord Bourne is a peer in the House of Lords