Ruth Maguire MSP has today welcomed the findings of a new report which calls for social landlords to take a human rights approach to improve outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government proposes to change the way that councils and housing associations provide support to victims of domestic abuse and make it a requirement that the needs of victims are prioritised over perpetrators.

The report and review group was co-chaired by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA) and follows guidance produced by both organisations in 2019 to support social landlords.

The recommendations from the report call for all local authorities and housing associations to implement a domestic abuse policy and for regulations to ensure that social landlords are held accountable if the housing rights of domestic violence victims are not met.

The SNP MSP for Cunninghame South said: “This report illuminates the impact of domestic violence on homelessness figures among women and notes the work that needs to be done in order to fully address the needs of women and children affected by this.

“It is deeply concerning that despite the publication of domestic abuse good practice guidance in 2019, only a minority of social landlords have implemented this. Women and children experiencing or at risk of domestic violence must have the right to remain in their own homes protected.”

Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP, said: “I welcome this report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, which marks a huge step in recognising and addressing the impact domestic abuse has on women’s homelessness.

“I’d like to thank the working group for the hard work that went into it. It is shocking that people are at risk of harm from those they live with, yet we know domestic abuse is the most common reason for women making a homelessness application and we must support them.

“Crucially, measures in the Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill provide the police and courts with new powers to protect people experiencing domestic abuse and give social landlords greater control over ending or transferring tenancies to keep women and children safe.

“The Scottish Government looks forward to working together with social housing providers to implement the report’s findings and ensuring victims of domestic abuse have a safe and secure place to live, where they can access the support they need.”

Jo Ozga, policy officer at Scottish Women’s Aid and co-chair of the report and review group, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a ‘shadow pandemic ’of domestic abuse. Lockdown measures have enabled perpetrators to enforce control, and highlighted that, even in normal circumstances, many women and children do not feel safe or secure at home. The report recommends a combination of systemic change, legislation and actions to prevent homelessness for victim-survivors of domestic abuse that will make a fundamental difference to improving not only the housing outcomes for women and children in Scotland but also their health and wellbeing.”

The full report is available here – https://womensaid.scot/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Improving-Housing-Outcomes-for-Women-and-Children-Experiencing-Domestic-Abuse-Report.pdf 

Good practice guide for social landlords – https://womensaid.scot/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Domestic-abuse-guidance-for-social-landlords-FINAL.pdf