Finding safe accommodation for domestic abuse victims after they leave a refuge in West Berkshire is “a common struggle”.

That is the message from West Berkshire Council, which will soon be legally required to find those victims and their children a safe place to stay.

It currently pays a housing association called A2dominion to provide victims with refuge for up to six months.

Since 2015, A2dominion has provided 44 victims with short-term accommodation and many of them came from outside West Berkshire, as they were fleeing from abuse partners.

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Victims from West Berkshire often leave to find refuge in another area of the country.

The council admits that finding secure accommodation for victims after they leave the refuge is a “common struggle” – but it will be legal required to provide them with support and safe accommodation when the Domestic Abuse Bill becomes law.

The government has promised £125 million of funding to help councils provide this support and West Berkshire Council expects to receive around £250,000 each year.

It plans to use that extra government funding to hire additional staff, so they can provide these victims with safe accommodation.

A council report states: “Move-on and second stage accommodation will be offered for clients leaving refuge.

“The Domestic Abuse Service will work with the council’s housing team should they need to secure accommodation if difficulties arise.”

Like all other councils in England, West Berkshire Council is legally required to help anyone facing homelessness.

Since 2018, it has provided 1,279 people with temporary accommodation after they were left without a place to live.

It says 81 of them became homeless “as a result of domestic abuse”.

The council is also planning to set up a West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Board, to oversee all of the work the council does to support these victims and their children.

It will be made up of members of specialist organisations that support abuse victims, charity workers, senior police officers, probation workers, healthcare professionals and housing providers.

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The council says it “may not be appropriate” for victims of domestic abuse to sit on the board, but specialist practitioners would be able to speak on their behalf.

Domestic Abuse Bill, which has almost cleared its final hurdle in Parliament, looks to provide a legal definition of domestic abuse, stating that it is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional or coercive abuse.

If it becomes law, it will prohibit abusers from cross-examining their victims in court and make sure that homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically get ‘priority need’ for support.

MP Victoria Atkin, minister for safeguarding, said: “Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime perpetrated on victims and their families by those who should love and care for them.

“This landmark bill will help transform the response to domestic abuse, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and ensure they have the support they need.”