Home Office evaluation highlights the urgent need for longer term funding to support migrant victims of domestic abuse

I welcome the evaluation of the Home Office Support for Migrant Victims pilot, which shows the positive impact of support for victims of domestic abuse without recourse to public funds.

My Safety Before Status research found that victims and survivors with insecure immigration status are currently shut out of vital routes to safety and security. Without recourse to public funds, too many are unable to access life-saving refuge, if they are forced to flee their homes.

Funded by the Home Office, Southall Black Sisters and the pilot delivery partners provided housing and support for 302 migrant victims over the course of the evaluation period. 

That half of those supported gained access to public funds shows the role of this funding in enabling migrant victims to secure long term safety and security. I am pleased to hear that survivors who were supported by the pilot felt improvements in their safety, mental health and wellbeing.

However, I am concerned that the evaluation found support offered through the pilot was too brief, particularly for survivors in complex legal circumstances. In addition, the funding was found to be insufficient to cover basic needs such as housing and food, especially for survivors with children.

The Support for Migrant Victims pilot is a short term sticking plaster, providing support for only a subset of the victims who need it. My research found that each year there are 7,700 migrant victims and survivors who need safe domestic abuse accommodation. 

In Safety Before Status: The Solutions, I called for the Home Office to invest an estimated £537 million over ten years in support for migrant victims. My research found that this funding would generate almost £2.3 billion in social benefits over 10 years.

I also want to see the government extend the legal routes available to migrant victims to regularise their status, through the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC) and Domestic Violence Indefinite Leave to Remain (DVILR).

Many migrant victims and survivors are afraid to report domestic abuse for fear that their information will be shared with immigration enforcement. In the upcoming Victims’ and Prisoners’ Bill, I am calling on government to introduce a firewall between public services and immigration enforcement to help remove this fear.

I was concerned to see the Home Office reject many of my recommendations for migrant victims in their response to Safety Before Status: the Solutions last month. With this new evidence today, I am calling on government reconsider this position, and put safety before status once and for all.