Domestic abuse survivors ‘spending hundreds of days in temporary housing’

Tory MSP Pam Gosal challenged Holyrood ministers to act on the issue.

Domestic abuse survivors ‘spending hundreds of days in temporary housing’ Getty Images

Ministers are being urged to “end the scandal” that can see survivors of domestic violence spend “hundreds of days” in temporary accommodation after leaving an abusive relationship.

Conservative MSP Pam Gosal called on the Scottish Government to act as figures, obtained under a freedom of information request, revealed survivors in the Edinburgh City Council area spent an average of 621 days in temporary accommodation after fleeing abuse.

Gosal wants the Scottish Government to sign up to a range of measures outlined in a new policy paper she has launched, called United Against Violence.

This calls for Police Scotland to treat violence against women as a “national threat” and for the force to establish a specialist Violence Against Women unit.

It also sets out that councils and housing associations should “ensure that survivors of abuse are prioritised for housing”.

The paper stated: “This should give victims the confidence and certainty to leave an abusive home, knowing that they will soon have settled accommodation.”

Gosal’s paper further proposes that every local authority should have a dedicated women’s officer, along with mandatory domestic abuse training for public sector workers.

It goes on to call for financial support for those people fleeing abusive relationships to be expanded.

The Conservative MSP, who is also bringing forward legislation aimed at helping tackle domestic abuse at Holyrood, said that “shocking statistics” on the time people spend in temporary accommodation showed that “victims of abuse are being left in limbo for hundreds of days after fleeing a violent home”.

Gosal said: “We must end the scandal of survivors being stuck in temporary accommodation for hundreds of days.

“Victims need confidence that they will have certainty and stability if they bravely choose to leave a violent household.

“My United Against Violence policy paper sets out how we can end this depressing situation, crack down on domestic abuse, and help more survivors to safely get out of violent homes and move on with their lives.”

The Conservative continued: “This plan would give police more powers to tackle abuse, including establishing a dedicated unit to target offenders and designating extra female officers as points of contact for survivors.

“My proposals would strengthen the justice system to prevent offenders from avoiding prosecution, while also rolling out effective programmes to help more victims to come forward.

“We should all aspire to make Scotland a world leader in tackling this abhorrent crime.

“I hope the SNP Government will consider these proposals so we can give victims of abuse the support they need to leave violent homes.”

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence are abhorrent and we must continue to work towards a Scotland where women and girls live free from violence and abuse.

“Supporting victim-survivors of domestic abuse with regards to their housing needs is vitally important for this government.

“We have begun delivering the recommendations included in the working group report on domestic abuse in the social rented sector, including the Fund to Leave pilot programme that helps to reduce the financial burden of leaving an abusive partner.

“Social landlords will also be required to develop and implement a domestic abuse housing policy which sets out how they will support tenants who are at risk of homelessness as a result of domestic abuse.”

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