Domestic Abuse. The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill has passed in Parliament, securing support from across the House. Despite the percentage of convictions for domestic abuse prosecutions being at its highest level since 2010 (76% of prosecutions now result in a conviction), a lot more needs to be done to reduce domestic violence, increase the number of cases that the CPS are confident to pursue and improve the support available to victims, particularly vulnerable women with children. The bill has been welcomed by organisations such as Women’s Aid and will improve legislation in several key areas. For example, the bill will end the practice of victims being cross-examined in court by their accused abuser and provide more support for victims during court cases, such as being able to give evidence in court via video link. The bill will create a Domestic Abuse Commissioner which will do more to hold local authorities, the justice system and other statutory agencies to account for tackling domestic abuse. The bill will also establish a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive, controlling or economic abuse.
I have followed the passage of the bill closely as domestic abuse has been an issue I have worked to draw attention to in Parliament. In 2018 I sponsored the submission of Chudleigh filmmaker Karen Turner to a prominent Westminster competition. Her excellent short film highlighted how domestic abuse affects men as well as women (a third of domestic abuse victims are male).
Funding for the Arts. The Government has provided unprecedented levels of support to businesses and workers to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. In our Central Devon constituency more than 10,000 workers have been furloughed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and 5,000 more self-employed workers have benefited from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Specific industries have also been targeted for help – in my article last week I wrote about the hospitality sector benefiting from VAT cuts on food, non-alcoholic drinks, accommodation and attractions.
The Government has now turned its attention to our cultural, arts and heritage institutions with a £1.57 billion package of emergency support. This is the largest ever investment in UK culture with thousands of organisations across a range of sectors set to benefit, including the performing arts and theatres, heritage sites, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema. The package of funding includes £880 million in grants, £270 million of repayable finance, £100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust and £120 million of capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which were paused due to the pandemic. Our creative industries employ 700,000 workers and have been our our fastest growing industries in recent years. They will be vital to our economic bounce back and deserve this package of support.
For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit www.melstridemp.com.