Domestic Abuse Bill


June 2017: SEA welcomed the announcement that legislation would be brought forward to protect victims of domestic violence and abuse in the Queen’s Speech. From the outset, we called for the concept of financial abuse within the policy definition of domestic abuse to be broadened out to economic abuse. This is because abusers control more than ‘just’ their partner’s access to money and finances, but also those things that money can buy, including food, clothing, transportation and a place to live.


We met with Home Office Ministers Sarah Newton MP and Victoria Atkins MP ahead of the consultation paper being published.


December 2017: Our analysis of economic abuse within successful prosecutions of controlling or coercive behaviour also recommended that economic abuse be named as part of the statutory definition of domestic abuse proposed by the new Bill.


March 2018:  The consultation document ‘Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse’ was published by HM Government. It proposed including economic abuse within the new statutory definition. The work of SEA was recognised as influencing this decision.


May 2018: To ensure that victim-survivor voices were at the heart of the new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, SEA offered to organise a special meeting of women who are ‘Experts by Experience’ in the form of a roundtable at the Home Office. Eighteen women attended, along with officials from the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Economic Crime lead from West Midlands Police.


May 2018: SEA’s written response to the consultation harnessed the roundtable findings with the expert knowledge we hold around economic abuse as well as the practice experience of members of the National Working Group on Economic Abuse (which is convened by SEA).


July 2018: SEA submitted written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee after it launched an inquiry into domestic abuse. The Committee asked SEA to provide oral evidence to its inquiry and to submit further written evidence.


October 2018: Both SEA’s written and oral evidence were reflected in the Home Affairs Committee report  on Domestic Abuse (ninth report of Session 2017-19)


October 2018: SEA was invited by Women’s Aid to speak on a panel discussing economic abuse alongside Victoria Atkins MP (Minister for Women and Safeguarding Minister at the Home Office) which took place at a Conservative Party fringe event.


January 2019: SEA responds to the publication of the draft Domestic Abuse Bill.


April 2019: SEA submits written evidence to the Joint Committee on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill


May 2019: SEA responded to a call for evidence on transformative policies and practices, by the Women’s Budget Group Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy.  The submission focused on the inclusion of economic abuse in the definition of domestic abuse in the Bill.


June 2019: SEA responds to Joint Committee report on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill.


October 2019: SEA proposed an amendment to the Bill to extend the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour to post- separation abuse.


April 2020: SEA welcomes the Second Reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill




Linked media work:

The Serious Crime Act (2015) created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships (section 76). This briefing paper sets out how it relates to economic abuse.


December 2017: Surviving Economic Abuse published ‘Into Plain Sight’ – an analysis of how economic abuse is reflected in successful prosecutions of controlling or coercive behaviour. In the report we recommended that:


  1. Statutory guidance on controlling or coercive behaviour should name and define economic abuse


[UPDATE: in January 2019 the government committed to: include reference to economic abuse in the statutory guidance for the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour; and update legal guidance for prosecutors to ensure cases of economic abuse can be successfully prosecuted]


  1. The Westminster Government should recognise economic abuse within the statutory definition of domestic violence that is being developed within the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill.


[UPDATE: in January 2018 the government committed to include economic abuse in the new statutory government definition of domestic abuse and accompanying statutory guidance to ensure that economic abuse and its impact is legally recognised, to improve knowledge and awareness of the issue and provide better support to victims]


  1. Consideration needs to be given about how to address forms of economic abuse which result in economic costs to the victim in sentencing and possibly criminal injury claims.


[UPDATE: The Sentencing Council issued a ‘Definitive Guideline for Intimidatory Offences on 1 October 2018. An aggravating factor introduced within the guidance is ‘victim left in debt, destitute or homeless.’]


  1. Awareness-raising activity needs to be undertaken so that behaviours which seek to interfere with an individual’s ability to acquire, use and maintain economic resources are understood as abusive.


  1. The Westminster Government should consider making economic abuse a criminal offence.


  1. Responses to domestic violence cases should incorporate an understanding of both physical and economic safety.


SEA is currently in the process of updating this analysis and will publish a new report in the latter half of 2019.


We are inviting victim-survivors who have pursued a successful prosecution to get in touch: [email protected],org

In June 2020, SEA submitted written evidence to the HCLG COVID-19 inquiry. Please read the full briefing here. 

In May 2019, the UK Government unveiled a new package of support for victims-survivors of domestic violence and abuse (DVA). It sees a legal duty placed on local authorities to deliver support in accommodation-based services, backed by funding to place services on a sustainable footing. SEA responded to the consultation in August 2019. We also submitted a good practice example of our work to address coerced debt, highlighting to commissioners of violence against women and girls services that they must recognise the importance of economic stability within coordinated community responses to domestic abuse.

SEA has been a member of the ‘National Housing and Domestic Abuse Policy and Practice Group’ led by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) since it was established in November 2017.


The Group brings together representatives from major homelessness, housing and domestic abuse organisations to ensure that:


  • The experience of survivors of domestic abuse is more prominent in the housing sector and helps shape improved and enhanced service delivery;
  • Women and children can access secure housing and good quality services when experiencing domestic abuse; and
  • Co-ordination exists between the housing and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sectors with regards to domestic abuse.


Together, the Group has submitted responses to the following:


  • Social Housing Green Paper (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, November 2018)
  • Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse (Home Office and Ministry of Justice, May 2018)

March 2018: SEA attended an event organised by Phillipa Whitford MP in the House of Commons to express concern about single payments made under the Universal Credit system and the dangers associated with the ‘split payment’ solution. Supported an Early Day Motion tabled on the same day.


April 2018: SEA provided written and oral evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee Inquiry, within which it recommended a domestic abuse advisor role in each Job Centre.


June 2018: SEA endorsed a report by the Women’s Budget Group on Universal Credit and Financial Abuse along with the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW).


July 2018: SEA also raised the issue of Universal Credit within its written and oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee’s Domestic Abuse Inquiry.


August 2018: SEA’s written and oral evidence were referred to within the Committee report  (seventeenth report of Session 2017-19)


September 2018: SEA spoke at the report launch in the House of Lords alongside Experts by Experience Doris and Aanya. Heidi Allen MP (Chair, Work and Pensions Committee) publicly stated that it was SEA’s oral evidence that convinced her about the problem of the one payment system because she recognised that it is also linked to women’s equality.


SEA submitted written evidence on Universal Credit to the UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on behalf of the National Working Group on Economic Abuse.

November 2018: SEA was invited by Just Fair to attend a Town Hall event in Newham at which our Director and Expert by Experience ‘Doris’ spoke about split payments.

We were also invited to speak alongside the Special Rapporteur, Professor Philip Alston at an event organised by Just Fair and the Human Rights Lawyers Association which took place at Doughty Street Chambers.


In his report, the UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights stated:


Under Universal Credit, single payments to an entire household may entrench problematic and often gendered dynamics within a couple, including by giving control of the payments to a financially or physically abusive partner.

June 2019: SEA co-authored with the Women’s Budget Group and EVAW the report Benefits or barriers? Making social security work for survivors of violence and abuse across the UK’s four nations.  This report was launched in Parliament in June.

September 2019: SEA submitted a response to a consultation on improving the social security system, by the Commission for Social Security UK, led by Experts by Experience and supported by Warwick University, LSE and Trust for London.


Accompanying media work

October 2018: The UK Finance ‘Financial Abuse Code of Practice’ was launched in October. SEA was involved in the creation of the Code.


November 2018: SEA responded to a discussion paper on a ‘duty of care and potential alternative approaches’ published by the Financial Conduct Authority.


December 2018: SEA hosted the  ‘Banking on Change’ in Salesforce Tower. Norm Kalcovski of the National Australia Bank gave the keynote speech.


At the conference, SEA published a briefing paper on banking and economic abuse.


SEA also announced the launch of a best banking practice award on responding to economic abuse.


Linked media work

The National Working Group on Economic Abuse is convened by the charity Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA). It was established in December 2017 and seeks to:


  • Identify how economic abuse can be better addressed through policy and legislation; and
  • Close-down the ways in which perpetrators use statutory and legal systems to facilitate economic abuse.


Group members include: Advance, Agenda, Beck Fitzgerald, Citizen’s Advice, Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA), End Violence Against Women (EVAW), Family Action, GEMAP Scotland Ltd., Imkaan, Nia, Refuge, Rights of Women (ROW), Standing Together Against Domestic Violence (STADV), Solace Women’s Aid, Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA), Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Women’s Aid Federation of England (WAFE) and Woman’s Budget Group.


Individual members include: Jennifer Glinksi, Amanda Morgan and Cassandra Wiener.


Together, the Group has submitted responses to the following:


  • Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse (Home Office and Ministry of Justice, May 2018)
  • Written submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (September 2018)

July 2018: SEA contributed to the shadow report from the Four Nations of the United Kingdom to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).


September 2018: SEA led on a joint written submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights by the National Working Group on Economic Abuse.

May 2019: SEA responded to a thematic consultation on Domestic Violence and the Prohibition of Torture and Ill-Treatment, by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

August 2019: SEA submitted a response to the call for evidence by the Ministry of Justice on assessing risk of harm to children and parents in private law children cases, looking at how family courts respond to allegations of domestic abuse and serious offences.