Commissioning Learning Hub

Good commissioning is key to delivering high quality domestic abuse services.

Specialist women’s domestic abuse services are independent from the state and often have decades of experience, making them uniquely equipped to respond to the needs of survivors in their local area.

Specialist ‘by and for’ services are run by and for the communities they serve, such as Black and minoritised women, Deaf and disabled women and LGBT+ survivors. In doing so they offer a uniquely empowering experience to the communities they support. 

Investing in specialist women’s domestic abuse services has been shown to not only benefit survivors but relieve the burden of domestic abuse on other local services, as women can access the support needed to leave their abuser and rebuild their lives.  

Women’s Aid know that best practice commissioning saves local services money and more importantly, saves lives. We recognise that public sector commissioners face difficult decisions in a climate of increased cuts to public services and want to support and empower commissioners with the knowledge and tools to make the best possible commissioning decisions for survivors.  

Working alongside Public Lawyer Julian Blake we have produced an Alternatives to Procurement Guide. The guide explains why exploring alternatives to procurement when commissioning domestic abuse services is not just better for survivor outcomes but aligned with statutory guidance. If you would like to discuss this guide further, please email

Below you can find specific information on key duties, commissioning resources and tailored support for Local Authorities, Police and Crime Commissioners and Integrated Care Systems.  

Local Authorities

Places a duty on tier one local authorities to provide safe accommodation for victims of domestic abuse and their children.

In order to achieve this the act also requires local authorities to: 

  • Appoint a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board. 
  • Conduct a needs assessment every three years for accommodation-based domestic abuse support in their area for all victims and their children, including those who come from outside the area. 
  • Develop and publish a strategy for the provision of such support to cover their locality, having regard to the needs assessment. 
  • Give effect to the strategy (through commissioning / de-commissioning decisions). 
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy. 
  • Report back to central government. 
  • Require local authorities to have regard to the statutory guidance in exercising their functions. 

The Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Act 2018 ensures that when mandatory fixed term tenancy provisions in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 were implemented, lifetime tenants who suffered domestic abuse would retain lifetime security, when granted a new tenancy by a local authority for reasons connected with the domestic abuse.  

The amendment under Section 79 of the Domestic Abuse Act requires local authorities to grant new secure tenancies to social tenants leaving existing secure tenancies for reasons connected with domestic abuse. 

Under Section 69, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 requires local authorities to give priority need status to people who are homeless because of domestic abuse and who are eligible for assistance in England. This was one of the earliest provisions in the Act to be enacted, coming into force in July 2021.  

Places a duty on ICBs, LA’s and PCCs to collaborate in the commissioning of community based domestic abuse, sexual violence and serious violence services. 

Police and Crime Commissioners

The strategy looks to improve equitable access to services by asking commissioners to:  

  • Ensure that needs assessments capture the diverse needs in a local area and identify and address barriers which prevent victims from using services such as language barriers.  
  • Improve referral routes (particularly for services supporting children/young people following sexual violence or domestic abuse).  
  • Ensure funding stream applications are accessible, particularly to smaller or ‘by and for’ organisations. 
  • Ensure services do not discriminate against service users and staff and have well promoted processes in place to deal with any potential incidents. 


It also recognises the need for sustainable funding by asking commissioners to: 

  • Pass multi-year funding commitments on providers, to encourage stability. 
  • Encourage the retention of staff with experience to prevent loss of knowledge and information. 
  • Ensure that the application processes for funding streams are proportionate to the amount of funding on offer. 

Places a duty on ICBs, LA’s and PCCs to collaborate in the commissioning of community based domestic abuse, sexual violence and serious violence services.

Integrated Care Systems

Places a duty on ICBs to address the needs of victims of abuse including domestic abuse in their Joint Forward Plans.  

Places a duty on ICBs to contribute to a partnership assessment of ‘serious violence’ in local areas. ‘Serious violence’ now includes domestic abuse. 

Places a duty on ICBs, LA’s and PCCs to collaborate in the commissioning of community based domestic abuse, sexual violence and serious violence services. 

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