This week, Chester’s local Labour MP, Chris Matheson, called on the Government to urgently bring forward the Domestic Abuse Bill without delay.
During a question to the Justice Minister Robert Buckland, Chris stated that:
“I have constituents coming to see me who are in shelters for months or even years because the facilities aren’t there.
“So when is the Government going to bring forward the Domestic Abuse Bill which has cross-party support so that we can give justice to these victims”.
In response to Chris’ question, the Justice Minister committed to bringing the bill forward “very soon indeed, well before Easter”.
When Parliament was dissolved in November the Domestic Abuse Bill fell. But in the Queen’s Speech, the Government committed to bringing it back. The bill had attracted cross-party support and was hailed by campaigners as an historic opportunity to transform support for survivors.
Chris has always worked closely with organisations such as Chester Women’s Aid, who work to support people fleeing domestic abuse, providing support and raising awareness about domestic abuse.
Chris said: “Here in Chester we have some fantastic charities, such as Chester Women’s Aid, who are working tirelessly to support people affected by domestic abuse. But government cuts have severely reduced support for victims, leaving vulnerable people without anywhere to turn.
Since 2010, the Government cut over a third of all funding to local authorities for domestic and sexual violence services. In the last four years the Conservative government has cut Cheshire West & Chester’s funding by £57 million.
Chris said: “I often speak to constituents who have endured years of domestic abuse and are living in shelters without any stable support. In some cases, due to lack of available social housing, women are being re-housed in areas close to where their abuser live. There is no sense of safety or security. The Government’s severe cuts to local authorities are having real human consequences. This situation cannot continue”.
He said: “There can be no further hold-ups in the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill. Every delay is critical to the continued suffering of victims. This includes 1.6 million female and 800,000 male victims in 2018-19. Domestic abuse and sexual violence have a devastating effect on victims. I will continue to press the Government to pass this crucial bill. Time is not a luxury that victims of domestic abuse have.”
Chris is supporting changes to the bill which will address the specific needs of children impacted by domestic abuse, including legislating for children and ensure protected places on all NHS waiting lists, as well as priority access to school places when they are forced to move to a new area to escape domestic abuse.