Statutory protection for women and children experiencing and fleeing domestic abuse is relatively strong in Scotland, providing legal entitlement to homelessness assessment and to housing. However, there is a lack of evidence of the extent to which the provision of accommodation and support, including re-housing support is meeting the needs of women and children facing domestic abuse in Scotland.
DOMESTIC ABUSE AND HOMELESSNESS
- There were 53,681 recorded incidents of domestic abuse in 2008-2009.
- Domestic abuse has long been recognised as a major contributory factor to homelessness. Research and official statistics show that women are more likely to be victims and to report related loss of accommodation.
- A violent or abusive dispute within the household was the fourth most common reason for all homelessness applications in 2008-2009 (6,160, 11%). 74% citing this as the main reason are from women, comprising single women at 34% or single women with children (40%).
- Households fleeing domestic violence or abuse accounted for 13% (4,665) of all priority need homelessness assessments.
- Many commentators note the limitations of official homelessness statistics as an accurate picture of the association between domestic abuse and homelessness.
DOMESTIC ABUSE, HOUSING OUTCOMES & SUPPORT
- Refuges have traditionally been the main response to supporting women threatened with homelessness due to domestic abuse. Studies have shown that shortages in provision could be problematic for access in a preferred location and inadequate provision to meet needs may contribute to repeat homelessness.
- A study found that obtaining exclusion orders with adequate force to protect women while they remain in the family home was difficult because of limited victim-centred legal processes and professional attitudes. There is a lack of evidence on the extent to which women in Scotland are enabled to remain in the family home.
- Official statistics show that the majority of women fleeing domestic abuse and presenting as homeless secured permanent accommodation, the majority securing a local authority tenancy. Temporary accommodation was only offered to around 1% of women with children fleeing a violent or abusive dispute.
- There is a lack of evidence on the homelessness outcomes and accommodation provision for perpetrator and male victims of domestic abuse.
- 27% of priority need cases stating their main reason as fleeing domestic abuse also identified a support need. The most common support need was a mental health problem followed by basic housing management and living skills. Single women fleeing domestic abuse were also more likely to identify support for drug or alcohol dependency.