Thank you for contacting me about domestic abuse.
Please allow me to assure you that I know protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims, regardless of their immigration status, remains a key Government priority. The Domestic Abuse Bill is making progress through Parliament and I welcome the fact that Ministers have said they are determined to ensure the Bill is enacted and implemented as soon as possible.
A Domestic Abuse Commissioner has been established to provide public leadership on domestic abuse issues. I welcome that the Commissioner will be required to have a specific focus on the needs of victims and survivors from minority or marginalised groups, including migrants. This week, I held a meeting with representatives from ‘Step Up Migrant Women’, Southall Black Sisters and other organisations and listened very carefully to the issues they raised with me.
I believe it is important to find the most effective way of ensuring these victims have support, rather than providing a pathway to indefinite leave to remain or a blanket lifting of the no recourse to public funds condition. After looking into this issue for you, I understand that there is a lack of evidence at the current time to highlight which cohorts of migrants are likely to need support the most, the numbers involved and how effective existing arrangements are.
I hope you will agree with me that without clear information of this kind, it is not possible to be absolutely sure any additional funding or support services are targeted correctly and effectively. I understand the Government's approach is therefore to deal with the evidence gaps I have mentioned before taking well-grounded decisions on how best to protect these victims going forward in a lasting way.
Ministers invited bids for grants from a pilot fund of £1.5 million to cover the cost of support in a refuge or other safe accommodation. In addition, this pilot will be used to assess the level of need for this group of victims in order to inform spending review decisions on longer-term funding.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP