Report and Presentation of Director of Public Health, Durham County Council.
The Board received a report and presentation of the Director of Public Health giving an overview of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, presented by the Strategic Manager, Public Health, Jane Sunter (for copy see file of minutes).
The Strategic Manager gave a detailed presentation, noting she was also Vice Chair of the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Executive Group (DASVEG). She noted changes to the statutory definition of domestic abuse, to include children and young people in their own right, new statutory requirements for Local Authorities to provide support to those arriving from another Local Authority area, a range of accommodation options and broader wrap around support. She explained as regards opportunities in terms of a new Domestic Abuse Strategy, funding that was available and the timeline for the implementation of the legislative changes.
Councillor R Bell noted the Council had received £50,000 to employ a Domestic Abuse Coordinator and £1.61 million in terms of New Burdens Fund from the Department of Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUCH) and asked how far the £1.61 million would go in terms of commissioning services and whether that was a one-off payment, whether it would be received annually, or if the Local Authority would be expected to manage funding ongoing. The Strategic Manager noted that alongside the introduction of the Safer Accommodation Strategy and the development of the Domestic Abuse Strategy, there was also ongoing work with partners to identify more long-term mainstream funding.
She noted that senior leaders across the Partnership had noted that in the past funding had come from a number of one off funding pots and therefore a commissioning strategy relating to domestic abuse work was being developed that would allow for the New Burdens funding to be taken on, as well as being able to set out a long-term vision in terms of funding. She added that it would not just be in terms of what had been done historically, it would look at needed to be done to progress the agenda.
Councillor T Henderson asked as regards how the Authority and partners were promoting what a healthy relationship was to children and young people to ensure that they understood that domestic violence and abuse was unacceptable. The Strategic Manager noted it was a priority area and explained that all school age children and young people had access to work that supported healthy relationships through the introduction of statutory relationship, sex and health education. She added that colleagues in Public Health also worked very closely with Education Durham to ensure that schools had access to quality resources that tackled all aspects of domestic abuse, including the impact of coercion, control, emotional abuse and financial abuse in an age appropriate way. She explained that the Local Authority was also working with partners in a more targeted way in terms of identifying vulnerable groups, especially children and young people, so that they had access to appropriate support, including enhanced support in safer accommodation. She added that, as part of the Safer Accommodation Strategy, there was work looking at opportunities for: more dispersed accommodation; sanctuary schemes, where the perpetrator moves out of the family home, not the potential victim and/or children; and move-on accommodation. She noted the work with colleagues from Housing Solutions and other housing partners and was part of the ‘Think Family’ approach in terms of addressing the issues around children and young people.
(i) That the report be noted.
(ii) That the Board acknowledge the statutory requirements placed on the Local Authority and its Partners.