The scheme in London that enables people at high risk of harm to relocate without losing security of housing tenure has been running for a year. It’s a positive beginning to ensuring that – at a time of many other losses – women and children can gain their safety without losing their housing security.
Requests were made from almost every London Borough, and the majority of moves supported individuals and families fleeing domestic abuse. Some received greater security of tenure than they had before, and almost all received the same security of tenure. Safer London – which is funded by the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to run the scheme – is committed to make sure that no-one feels under pressure to take a shorter or less secure tenancy, and will not take anyone off the list for refusing an unsuitable property. Despite the pressures on social housing in London, the moves so far have taken an average of only 2 months to arrange.
This is good news. As a Housing Professional quoted in the report says:
“Due to the reciprocal I was able to support the client to address her safety which was her priority. It was important that the client felt in control of where she wanted to relocate to which was in the area she was placed as she felt that her family, friends and network in the area would help her to move forward, free of further abuses.”
In terms of the project on this website – Women on the move: the journeyscapes of domestic violence – it is interesting to note that the scheme recognises the problems of administrative boundaries: constraining and confusing the journeys women and children need to make. These boundaries often become barriers, so that women cannot make the journeys that work for them, and are forced to move further or nearer than they need; or to a place that is less suitable for them and their children to start again.
 To quote from the report: “One of the common themes that the team have found is that applicants, and the professionals supporting them, do not visualise London by borough. This has resulted in many people wishing to be moved to specific areas of a borough, or not having full knowledge of the areas that they have included in their request.” Page 15, Safer London. 2018. Pan London Housing Reciprocal Year 1 Report (Feb 2017 – Jan 2018). https://saferlondon.org.uk/pan-london-housing-reciprocal/.