Barnet Labour call on Council Leader to meet domestic violence organisations

Barnet Labour have written an open letter to Council Leader, Richard Cornelius, calling on him to meet with local domestic violence organisations following news revealed by the Barnet Press of LB Barnet’s plan to strip victims of domestic violence of their priority status on the housing waiting list.

In the letter, Labour councillors and the three Labour parliamentary candidates write that,

"Access to safe, secure and stable housing is vital for all those leaving home and fleeing difficult and violent circumstances.

"We call upon you as Leader of Barnet Council to recognise that by withdrawing these proposals, and we invite you to meet with local organisations who help support the victims of domestic violence to be clear about how housing allocations policy should be formulated to help that work."

Labour councillors believe that the council’s proposals:

  • Will reduce the chances of those leaving a violent home from being placed into permanent council accommodation.
  • Will reduce their housing options by forcing them into emergency or temporary accommodation – often bed and breakfast – at a time when they need stable and secure housing, and at a time when they need options and advice.
  • Could also strip those currently in council accommodation of any permanent tenancy they may have, which may discourage them from reporting the violence and seeking help in the first place.

Cllr Reema Patel, who has started a petition calling for the council to withdraw the proposals, said: "It is a basic principle of good government, both at a local and national level, that the state acts to protect those who are most in need and most vulnerable. 

"The council’s proposals set a dangerous precedent that will damage domestic violence victims and survivors’ right to housing."

Sarah Sackman said: "It is unacceptable that organisations which represent victims of domestic violence in Barnet were not invited to meet the Leader of the Council before this proposal was announced.  Cllr Cornelius should meet domestic violence groups face to face before going any further with this dangerous idea."

The letter has been sent to the local newspapers and to Cllr Cornelius directly.

Notes:

1. Full text of the open letter to the Council Leader:

Dear Richard

Domestic violence victims' housing rights
 
We write to oppose the proposals in Barnet Council’s recent consultation to require victims of domestic violence to register as ‘homeless’ in order to be re-housed.
 
These proposals will damage domestic violence victims and survivors’ right to housing. This policy, if implemented, will reduce the chances of those leaving a violent home from being placed into permanent council accommodation.
 
It reduces their housing options by forcing them into emergency or temporary accommodation – often bed and breakfast – at a time when they need stable and secure housing, and at a time when they need options and advice.
 
It could also strip those currently in council accommodation of any permanent tenancy they may have, which may discourage them from reporting the violence and seeking help in the first place.
 
It is vital that we protect women and men who suffer abuse and that we prioritise their safety and protection. We call upon Barnet Council to drop these proposals which set a dangerous precedent.
 
Access to safe, secure and stable housing is vital for all those leaving home and fleeing difficult and violent circumstances. It is a basic principle of good government, both at a local and national level, that the state acts to protect those who are most in need and most vulnerable. 
 
We call upon you as Leader of Barnet Council to recognise that by withdrawing these proposals, and we invite you to meet with local organisations who help support the victims of domestic violence to be clear about how housing allocations policy should be formulated to help that work.
 
We call on all residents who support us in this campaign to sign the petition online: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-domestic-violence-survivors-right-to-housing
 
We also call on all MPs and local councillors across Barnet, and across all political parties to join us in opposing these proposals. 
 
Best wishes,
 
Cllr Reema Patel (Councillor, Coppetts Ward and Secretary, Fabian Women’s Network)
Andrew Dismore (Labour Parliamentary Candidate - Hendon, GLA Member Barnet & Camden)
Cllr Alison Moore (Leader, Barnet Labour Group)
Sarah Sackman (Labour Parliamentary Candidate – Finchley & Golders Green)
Amy Trevethan (Labour Parliamentary Candidate – Chipping Barnet)

2. You can sign the petition at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-domestic-violence-survivors-right-to-housing

3. For more information about the proposed changes to housing allocations policy see:http://betterbarnet.nationbuilder.com/campaign_to_stop_domestic_violence_victims_being_stripped_of_housing_rights

-----------------------------

For further details please contact:

Cllr Reema Patel: 07949 769 970

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