Women’s Aid’s survey reveals fear that over half of refuge and outreach services could face closure
Mon, 7th Mar 11
National charity warns that cuts to domestic and sexual violence services will cost lives
National domestic violence charity Women’s Aid today launch the results of their survey of the effects of the proposed cuts to domestic and sexual violence services. The survey (1) shows that:
- 60% of refuge services have no funding agreed from 1st April 2011
- 72% of outreach services have no funding agreed from 1st April 2011
Two women every week in England and Wales are already killed by a former or current partner (2) and proposed cuts will mean a significant reduction in lifesaving services for those affected by violence in the home. Comparisons of this special survey with Annual Survey figures for refuge and outreach use for 2009/10 suggest that nationally over 70,000 women, and their children, might not be able to access a service after April 2011, putting more lives at risk. The Home Office estimates that each domestic homicide costs the government £1million (3).
Women’s Aid is concerned about
- Disproportionate impact of the cuts on specialist domestic and sexual violence services
For example, Devon’s domestic abuse services were recently cut by 42% from 1st April - far more than the 27% overall cuts the local authority are implementing over the next 4 years, meaning that the domestic abuse services are taking an unfair proportion of the hit;
• Significant reductions in the vital help and support available to women and children at risk
There never was enough service to meet demand anyway – Women’s Aid annual survey shows that we still only have 75% of the services recommended 35 years ago by a government select committee;
• The impact of reduced services on victims - increased prevalence of domestic and sexual violence, with the risk of an increase in domestic homicides, as well as increased pressure on shrinking health, local authority and criminal justice resources.
In a recent speech, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said he expects local authorities to behave reasonably in the way they manage their relationship with voluntary and community groups and urged local councils to be reasonable by not passing on disproportionate cuts to local and voluntary groups. Local authorities need to listen to this and act responsibly and fairly to established domestic violence organisations that provide lifesaving services – and to think about the long term consequences.
Women’s Aid is urging all MPs to join the national Save Survivors’ Services campaign to protect lifesaving violence against women services in their constituencies. On International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8th March 2011, Women’s Aid is holding a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence at the House of Commons to discuss the national situation with MPs and representatives from Women’s Aid member organisations.
Nicola Harwin CBE, Chief Executive of the national charity, Women’s Aid, said:
“The proposed cuts to the national network of domestic and sexual violence services are absolutely devastating, although sadly not unexpected. We are particularly concerned that the removal of ring fenced funding for Supporting People last year coupled with cuts to local authority budgets has created a situation where councils across the country are making disproportionate cuts and rash decisions at the expense of protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society. Reducing specialist domestic violence services will inevitably result in increased demands on other shrinking services such as healthcare, police and social service departments, also under pressure, as well as putting the lives of the most vulnerable women and children at risk. It has taken 40 years to build the current national network of services which enables us to take women out of their area when needed to protect them and their children from their violent partner. Even with the current level of service provision, we still only have three-quarters of the bedspaces we need, yet we are in a position where we could potentially lose half of our services. As we celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day, and 100 years of work to end violence and promote women’s equality this seems particularly sad. We urge all local authorities to consider the damaging effect withdrawing specialist domestic and sexual violence services will have and rethink.”
To support the Saving Survivors’ Services campaign please go to www.womensaid.org.uk. To attend the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence on Tuesday 8th March, please contact Katie Ross on 0117 9837121.
Notes to editors
1. 85 organisations responded to the survey which run a combined total of 420 refuge and outreach services, Women’s Aid March 2011.
2. British Crime Survey, 2004
3. Home Office, 2004.
4. APPG Meeting on Tuesday 8th March
The meeting will run from 5pm-7pm, at the Betty Boothroyd Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster. To attend please contact Katie Ross at Women’s Aid on 0117 9837121.
5. Information about Women’s Aid
Women's Aid is the national domestic violence charity that co-ordinates and supports an England-wide network of over 500 local services working to end domestic violence against women and children. Keeping the voices of survivors at the heart of its work, Women's Aid campaigns for better legal protection and services, providing a strategic "expert view" to government on laws, policy and practice affecting abused women and children. In partnership with its national network, Women's Aid runs public awareness and education campaigns, bringing together national and local action, and developing new training and resources. Women's Aid provides a package of vital 24 hour lifeline services through its publications (available in 11 languages including English), websites (www.womensaid.org.uk and www.thehideout.org.uk), and running the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline in partnership with Refuge. Women's Aid is a registered charity no 1054154.