Latest News Domestic Abuse Bill: Committee Stage, House of Lords Domestic Abuse Bill: Committee Stage, House of Lords Hestia is one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges and support in London and the South. Last year we supported 2,225 people to recover from the trauma of domestic abuse. We are the home of domestic abuse and sexual violence campaign UK Says No More and developed the Bright Sky domestic abuse app in partnership with Vodafone. The Domestic Abuse Bill is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform our national response to domestic abuse and protect those affected. As the Bill progresses through the House of Lords, we are seeking to redress glaring omissions in the way the current system deals with victims of domestic abuse at work, at home and in state care and education. We are seeking your support for three amendments to the Bill to address glaring omissions. These amendments have kindly been tabled by Baroness Burt and they would: Maintain the places of children in refuges or fleeing abuse on NHS waiting lists Provide equivalent priority access to education for children who are victims of domestic abuse Extend the employer’s duty of care These amendments can be seen here on pages 12, 68 and 69. The text of these amendments are also included at the end of this document, along with real life examples of why these amends are needed. Greater support for children who have experienced domestic abuse 950,000 children across the UK are affected by domestic abuse each year, either directly as victims of violence, or indirectly in terms of witnessing violence. At Hestia, we know the horrific impact of domestic abuse on their lives. Witnessing and being a victim of abuse has catastrophic implications. Children respond to abuse in different ways but may suffer severe mental health issues, become aggressive themselves or engage in destructive behaviour. Analysis from Pro Bono Economics, carried out for charity Hestia highlights the staggering potential cost to UK taxpayers of children exposed to severe domestic violence who are not given support to overcome their trauma as between £480m and £1.4bn. We are pleased that the Government has listened and has tabled its own amendment to the Bill to recognise children as victims of domestic abuse. However, the Bill must also provide practical measures to ensure children get the vital support that they need, specifically: Maintain the places of children in refuges or fleeing abuse on NHS waiting lists We would like to see protected status on NHS waiting lists for the places of children fleeing domestic abuse. Trauma in childhood can lead to severe issues that last a lifetime. Children escaping domestic abuse should not have their vital access to healthcare services delayed by moving to a refuge and/or out of the area. Children fleeing abuse desperately need fast access to healthcare. Protected status on NHS waiting lists is a necessity for these vulnerable children. Currently, waiting list systems differ from one Clinical Commissioning Group (“CCG”) to the next. As a result, children who are relocated can lose their places for access to vital physical and mental healthcare, which undermines the safeguarding and protection of children in these scenarios. Priority access is currently afforded to military veterans under the Armed Forces Covenant, meaning that servicemen and the families of servicemen who move around the country retain their relative positions on any NHS waiting list. We propose the same treatment for children forced to move as a result of or bearing witness to domestic abuse. The Armed Forces Covenant is not legally binding. It is reliant on provisions in NHS guidance and implementation by local CCGs. The most effective way to enshrine protection of a child’s relative position on the waiting list would be to include a provision in the new Bill, stipulating specific provisions be made in NHS England guidance. Provide equivalent priority access to education for children who are victims of domestic abuse Local authorities have a duty to provide school places for “looked after children”. This should be extended to children who are forced to change schools as a result of domestic abuse. Children forced to change schools as a result of domestic abuse endure significant disruption to their education, in addition to the trauma they have witnessed in their home lives which severely impacts their mental and physical wellbeing. Currently, children who are "looked after" by local authorities are given priority status. If a school receives more applicants than it has places, these "looked after" children are allocated places first. Refugee children, children seeking asylum and children who have previously been "looked after" by local authorities are also guaranteed places in oversubscribed schools. The definition of a "looked after" child (as defined in the Children Act 1989) includes children who are in the care of, or provided with accommodation for longer than 24 hours by, a local authority in the exercise of social services functions as defined by the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. The School Admissions Code and accompanying guidance sets out the oversubscription criteria which provide for the issuing of places to looked after children. Children who have fled domestic abuse should receive the same provisions. Extend the employer’s duty of care During the C-19 lockdown, the introduction of Safe Spaces for victims of domestic abuse by businesses across the UK including Boots, Superdrug and Morrisons has demonstrated the huge impact that businesses can have in supporting victims of domestic abuse. Experiencing domestic abuse can significantly affect a person's work life as well as their home life. Victims may have to relocate, impacting their ability to get to work, and the effects of the abuse (whether physical, psychological or financial) may affect their performance or ability to work at all. Some employers have policies in place which introduce practical measures to support domestic abuse victims. For example, Vodafone plans to offer up to ten days of paid leave to victims of domestic abuse and provide specialist training for human resources managers to enable them to support employees experiencing domestic abuse or violence. Hestia is part of a coalition of domestic abuse charities and organisations carrying out a programme called Everyone's Business, which aims to encourage as many employers as possible to consider how they can support their employees impacted by domestic abuse. However, despite these efforts, only 5% of employers have a domestic abuse policy of any kind in place. A provision in the Domestic Abuse Bill making it mandatory for employers to provide care and support for their employees who suffer abuse has the potential to make a significant practical difference to victims and survivors alike. The duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities in the Equality Act 2010 provides a potential model to put this into practice. About Hestia & UK Says No More Hestia is one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges in London and the South East and is the main organisation supporting victims of modern slavery in the capital. It is the home of domestic abuse and sexual violence campaign UK Says No More and developed the Bright Sky domestic abuse app in partnership with Vodafone. This year, it celebrates 50 years of providing support to those in crisis by providing safehouses, refuge accommodation and support. UK SAYS NO MORE is a national campaign launched by charity Hestia in 2016 to unite a diverse range of individuals and organisations in taking a stand against domestic abuse and sexual violence. Over 155 coalition partners from across the UK representing business, civil society and government now back the campaign. Since May 2018 they have been joined by over 150 MPs and Lords who have signed up as UK SAYS NO MORE champions. For further information please contact: Jo Tilley-Riley / [email protected] / 07467146737 Tabled Amendments Hogan Lovells and Twenty Essex have chosen to work on a pro-bono basis in partnership with Hestia, and have supported the drafting of these amendments. Suggested Provision: New Clause after Clause 15 Duty to co-operate: children awaiting NHS treatment (1) The Commissioner must within 6 months after section 15 comes into force issue a request under that section to the NHS bodies in England mentioned in subsection (2) to co-operate with the Commissioner to secure that the objective set out in subsection (3) is met within 12 months after that section comes into force and continues to be met. (2) The bodies are— (a) every clinical commissioning group established under section 14D of the National Health Service Act 2006, and (b) every other NHS body in England (as defined in section 15(7)) whose co-operation the Commissioner thinks is necessary to secure that the objective set out in subsection (3) is met. (3) The objective is that where a child affected by domestic abuse has been referred for NHS care or treatment in the area (“Area A”) of a clinical commissioning group as a result of being so affected moves to the area (“Area B”) of another clinical commissioning group, the child receives that care or treatment no later than it would have been received in Area A. Suggested Provision: New Clause after Clause 72 School admissions School admissions code: duty of Secretary of State (1) The Secretary of State must, within six months after this section comes into force, secure that the school admissions code issued for England under section 84 of the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998 (“1998 Act”) contains such provision as the Secretary of State considers necessary to achieve the objective set out in subsection (5). (2) The Secretary of State must secure that the Commissioner is consulted about any proposed provision under subsection (1). (3) The Welsh Ministers must, within six months after this section comes into force, secure that the Welsh Assembly Government school admissions code issued under section 84 of the 1998 Act contains such provision as the Welsh Ministers consider necessary to achieve the objective set out in subsection (5). (4) The Welsh Ministers must secure that the Commissioner is consulted about any proposed provision under subsection (3). (5) The objective is that— (a) oversubscription criteria for admission to any school to which the school admissions code applies give the same priority to children falling within subsection (6) as to looked-after children (within the meaning of section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989), and (b) the Code contains appropriate guidance about admission of children who have moved home to avoid domestic abuse or who are otherwise affected by domestic abuse. (6) A child falls within this subsection if the child— (a) is in the care of, or provided with accommodation by, a body exercising a function which, if the body were a local authority, would be a social services function of the kind mentioned in section 22(1)(b) of the Children Act 1989, or (b) has moved home as a result of being affected by domestic abuse. Suggested provision: New Clause after Clause 72 Workers Code of practice: employer’s duty of care (1) In this section: (a) "Worker" means an individual who has entered into or works under a contract of employment or any other contract, whether express or implied and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual; and (b) "Employer" means the person to whom the worker undertakes to perform the work or services in question. (2) The Secretary of State must issue a code of practice (a “code”) containing provision designed to ensure that persons affected by domestic abuse who are workers receive appropriate care and support from their employer in relation to their work. (3) A code may include provision requiring an employer to make reasonable adjustments for the purpose of ensuring that persons affected by domestic abuse are not, by reason of being so affected, placed at a substantial disadvantage in relation to their work in comparison with persons who are not so affected. (4) The Secretary of State may revoke or amend a code. (5) Before issuing, revoking or amending a code the Secretary of State must— (a) issue proposals, and (b) consult the Commissioner and such other persons as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate. (6) Failure to comply with a provision of a code does not of itself make a person liable to civil or criminal proceedings; but a code shall be— (a) admissible in evidence in criminal or civil proceedings, and (b) taken into account by a court or tribunal in any case in which it appears to the court or tribunal to be relevant, including (in particular) any case in which a question arises as to whether an employer is in breach of a duty of care owed to a worker.