To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans her Department has to safeguard (a) vulnerable people and (b) autistic and other neurodivergent groups of vulnerable people from abuse and exploitation (i) during and (ii) following the covid-19 lockdown.
18 May 2020
We recognise that there are greater risks to vulnerable groups during the lockdown period. That is why the Government has taken clear steps to address these risks and ensure that we continue to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
In particular the Home Office response to vulnerable children in the COVID-19 epidemic has focused on:
o Stepping up communications through schools, online guidance, the private sector and charities.
o Addressing the hidden nature of abuse by identifying and mobilising protective “eyes and ears” within the community.
o Reinforcing the importance of multi-agency working.
o Working across government to support the charity sector.
The Home Office is working closely with other government departments and the third sector to allocate some of the £750m funding for charities, announced by the Chancellor last month, to charities supporting vulnerable people, including:
o £2 million for community-based services for victims of domestic abuse
o £28 million to help survivors of domestic abuse and their children by providing more safe spaces, accommodation and access to support services during the coronavirus outbreak
o £7.8 million for organisations supporting vulnerable children at risk of abuse, exploitation and other serious harms; and
o £1.73 million to support adult victims of modern slavery through The Salvation Army and their thirteen sub-contractor charities.
In addition, last month the Department of Education announced that more than £12 million will be spent on projects to tackle the increased risk some children and young people are facing as they stay at home to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
We are continuing to work closely with other government departments to ensure that the necessary support is in place to continue to support vulnerable people beyond lockdown. As an example, the Government are continuing the progression of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill through Parliament to better protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice.
We recognise the challenges that autistic people and people with neurodiverse conditions and their families face as a result of the response to COVID-19.
We are working with stakeholders and charities to ensure that all people with neurodiverse conditions are supported appropriately during the pandemic and after. Our support includes, for example, the development of specific guidance and access to online support and social groups. Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak is available at the following link:
The Guidance includes information about supporting the physical and mental health, and wellbeing of people with learning difficulties and/or autism.