Refuge [SA3]

1. A refuge is one form of supported housing

2. Generally speaking the term “refuge” refers to an institution which provides safe accommodation for individuals (most frequently women) who have suffered violence from a spouse or partner.

Definition for the purposes of HB specified accommodation

3. Within the context of specified accommodation, the label “refuge” applies to accommodation which:1The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006/213 reg 75H(4)

  1. is provided by an HB administering authority (i.e. a relevant authority) or a relevant body to the claimant because the claimant has left the home as a result of domestic violence; and
  2. consists of a building, or part of a building, which is used wholly or mainly for the non-permanent accommodation of persons who have left their homes as a result of domestic violence.

DWP circular

4.  The DWP say that refuge as a category:2DWP Housing Benefit Circular HB A8/2014, paras 24 to 28

[…] looks to protect the rents of both third and social sector refuges. This is again achieved through identifying the provider type as well as the reason why the person is living in the property (i.e. that they are fleeing domestic violence) and that this is a temporary arrangement.

The definition for domestic violence we are using is the same as the crossgovernment definition, with the exception that we do not include the reference to age because Universal Credit is available only to those aged 16 or over. The exclusion of the reference to partnership or familial relationships broadens the definition to include other types of violence that may occur in a domestic setting (for example, violence by a neighbour or landlord). This will ensure that the new definition provides protection for as wide a range of provision as possible.

The legislation refers to having “left the home as a result of domestic violence”. As a clarification, in this context the meaning is the home where the claimant usually lives and from where they initially fled, rather than any intermediate accommodation, which may well have been another refuge in some cases. All that is required is that there is a causal connection between the claimant being in the refuge and their having left their home as a result of domestic violence.

It has been estimated by stakeholders that around half of refuges currently available are protected because they are “exempt accommodation”. The rest are said to be outside the definition because the refuges only manage the properties they use, often for social sector landlords.

Many refuges are likely to already be covered by the first and second categories as this category includes the same types of providers already covered through the first two. However, it also includes LA refuges.

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