New Duty on Local Authorities to Provide Domestic Abuse Support in Safe Accommodation in England

Public Consultation on Allocation methods for the associated New Burdens Funding

12th October 2020

1.    Introduction

This public consultation was launched 5th October 2020 and responses are required by 13th November 2020.

It is proposed that new burdens funding for implementation of the duty will be allocated from 2021 for a period of three years in annual amounts.  A review will take place in year three. Beyond this period the allocation will become part of the Local Government Finance Settlement.

2.    Background

On 3 March the Government re-introduced the Domestic Abuse Bill into Parliament. The Bill includes a new duty on local authorities in England to provide support for victims of domestic abuse and their children within safe accommodation.  If the Bill is approved the new duty will commence in April 2021.

In this paper, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is consulting on the allocation method to distribute the new burdens funding associated with the duty.

3.    The New Duty

Under the new duty, local authorities will be required to assess the need and commission support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in safe accommodation services in their areas, and report back to central Government that they have met these obligations.

The Domestic Abuse Bill places a duty on each Tier One (note that Stoke-on-Trent City Council is Tier One) local authority in England to:

Appoint a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board which it must consult as it performs certain specific functions: These are to:

  • Assess, or make arrangements for the assessment of, the need for domestic abuse support for all victims (and their children) who reside in relevant safe accommodation in their area, including those who require cross-border support.
  • Prepare and publish a strategy for the provision of such support to cover their area having regard to the need’s assessment.
  • Give effect to the strategy (for example through commissioning / de-commissioning decisions.)
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy.
  • Report back annually to central government.
  • Require the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance, having consulted the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, local authorities and such other persons as considered appropriate.
  • Have regard to the statutory guidance in exercising their functions under this, the proposed amendment to part 4 of the Domestic Abuse Act (clauses 55 – 59).

4. Consultation

The consultation focuses on the allocation of new burdens funding for support costs and administration of the new duty requirements.

4.1 Proposed Allocation Method for Support Costs

Under the new duty the Council will be required to commission Domestic Abuse support in safe accommodation services based on identified needs in the city.

The allocation method proposed by Government is to base this funding allocation on population figures with an adjustment for labour costs to reflect the differences in this cost across England.

For example, A Tier One authority has 5% of the population of England so the example authority will get 5% of the total support funding X the labour cost adjustment factor for that authority.

4.2 Proposed Allocation Method for Administrative New Burden Costs

The consultation proposes that the administrative burdens for the local authorities will be the same regardless of the size of the area.  Therefore each Local Authority will receive the same amount of funding X the labour costs adjustment factor.

5.    Consultation Questions

The questions focus on whether or not respondents are in agreement with the funding allocation proposals.  Respondents are also asked to give their views on the labour costs adjustment factor and whether any other factors should be taken into consideration.

There are no word limits on the responses and responses should be submitted online here.

Email enquiries can be sent to DomesticAbuse.Fund@communities.gov.uk

Please direct any comments or enquiries for the Council’s attention to Eleanor Taylor by email: eleanor.taylor@stoke.gov.uk or telephone 01782234668.