Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Today The BRISTOLIAN can exclusively reveal that domestic abuse survivor ‘Ms X’ – whose case we featured prominently through November – has finally been rehoused. Yet this excellent news is overshadowed by figures released by Bristol City Council that show others like her face an astonishing SIX MONTH WAIT.
We understand that Ms X received the keys to her new home yesterday, following a rush of activity in recent weeks by senior council officials whose sudden interest in her case mysteriously only took hold after The BRISTOLIAN took up the cudgels in support. She had up until that point been ignored by the Service Director, housing managers and the Mayor’s office, despite being at a very real risk of serious violence from her abuser.
Meanwhile, after a long wait for the data on how many others like Ms X there are out there in Bristol, the council today responded to a Freedom of Information request by a BRISTOLIAN reporter with statistics that are EVEN MORE HORRIFIC THAN FIRST FEARED.
For the year 2012-2013, Bristol City Council received 396 applications for rehousing due to domestic abuse. Just 228 were rehoused – that’s a success rate of under 58%*. Incredibly, domestic abuse victims had to wait on average more than 185 days to be found a place of safety. ONE-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIVE DAYS at risk of violence, sexual assault, mental torture and much more besides.
Whilst budget cuts have clearly made the situation worse over the past year, the figures show that this scandal has not appeared out of thin air. In 2008-09, UNDER 40% OF 224 ABUSED APPLICANTS WERE REHOUSED, with an average wait of 120.5 days.
The following year, 2009-10, there were more applicants – 275 – but better performance from the council, with 61% rehoused and the wait down to just over 112 days. 82% of 307 people were found safe homes in 2010-11, with the wait cut to three months – though that means there were still MORE THAN FIFTY PEOPLE AT RISK OF ABUSE LEFT OUT IN THE COLD.
However, by 2011-12, fewer than three-quarters of the 347 people seeking help were rehoused, with the wait jumping up to 132.4 days. As the data clearly shows, there has been a steady rise in the need for rehousing – NEARLY DOUBLING in just five years.
This comes at the same time that researchers at the University of Bristol have released findings from a study of homeless women in the city which show that nearly 80% had suffered domestic abuse in the past, with almost a quarter of them facing it currently or recently.
So just how are Bristol’s overpaid, self-regarding political élite – whether arrogant Mayor Fergo and his City Hall hangers-on, or the top service bosses in their nice, warm offices – going to solve this sickening scandal? Is their plan to wait for vulnerable women, children and men to just die off, either through the violence of their abusers or the unforgiving harshness of being homeless?
That’s certainly one way to improve the statistics without actually doing anything.