‘Excellent start’ as government announces pilot of emergency fund for domestic abuse survivors

Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid has described the “relief” for survivors of domestic abuse following a government announcement of the pilot of a £300,000 fund to offer one-off payments to help survivors flee abusers. Survivors will receive £250, or £500 if they have children, from funding in the existing Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan.  

Women’s Aid chief executive Farah Nazeer said: 

“This announcement is a relief, as this emergency fund is much needed – the pilot of a fund is an excellent start in supporting survivors who desperately need emergency funds to leave their abuser, and an important breakthrough moment. This fund really could be the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable. This fund is thanks to the survivors of domestic abuse who have campaigned for this with us and other organisations, and we thank the government for listening to their voice.

“Through our work with survivors, we constantly hear about the economic barriers preventing them from fleeing their abusers. That’s why we’ve campaigned since last summer for a fund to meet survivors’ financial needs during this challenging time where many costs have risen, and practically, leaving has become much more difficult.

“This commitment not only provides lifesaving support it also sends a strong message that the government is committed to helping bring about the day when domestic abuse is not tolerated anywhere in our society.” 

To obtain the fund, a survivor would be referred by a frontline worker who would determine the survivor’s eligibility based on specific criteria1, and then refer them to the national fund.    

The fund will be delivered via referrals from a network of frontline services, including ‘by and for’ organisations, and caseworkers who have a specialist understanding of domestic abuse in England and Wales.  

Funding will be made available through a variety of means, ensuring that a survivors’ financial status is considered individually – for instance, by offering funding through bank transfer, vouchers, cash, or through a referring organisation. In many instances, abusers may control survivors’ bank accounts, so funds will only be delivered if this is deemed safe.  

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, founder and CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse said: 

“We are pleased to see this commitment from the government. Lack of access to emergency funds prevents victims from leaving an abuser, it prevents those who do manage to leave from rebuilding their lives safely and it is why many feel they have no choice but to return. An emergency flee fund will represent a lifeline to victims and their children.

“Economic safety underpins physical safety. The rising cost of living means this emergency fund could not come at a more crucial moment. The Financial Support Line, run in partnership between Surviving Economic Abuse and Money Advice Plus, shows that 4 in 5 victim-survivors are now in a negative budget or have less than £100 at the end of each month.

“It is encouraging to see that this fund will be delivered by specialist domestic abuse organisations, as well as the fact it will be open to survivors with no recourse to public funds. We know that perpetrators use the financial dependency of migrant survivors as a means of control and abuse, so this is an important inclusion.

“We are delighted to have supported this call by Women’s Aid and pay tribute to the domestic abuse survivors who shared their experiences to bring about this fund.” 

Sara Kirkpatrick, chief executive of Welsh Women’s Aid, said:  

“WWA are delighted that this pilot will go some way to alleviating the financial barriers faces by survivors at a point of crisis in their lives.  

“The flexibility of this funding means specialist services will be able to directly support survivors who need vital funding in face of financial and economic barriers that make it even more difficult for them to escape their abusers.

“Being able to go through specialist and frontline services means that survivors will get the help they need when they need with the appropriate protections in place. The flexibility of offering this fund to those with no recourse to public funds will also mean that more survivors with limited access to other financial mechanisms can be supported.

“This is a source of funding that will go some way to mitigating the barriers that have been aggravated by the cost-of-living crisis.” 

 Souad Talsi MBE, founder and interim CEO at Al-Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre-London, said: 

“This critical fund could not have come sooner for those we seek to support. The fund means urgent and immediate equal treatment for all victims and survivors of domestic abuse, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.” 

Yesterday (Thursday 30th March), Minister for Safeguarding Sarah Dines MP visited Surrey-based domestic charity I Choose Freedom with Women’s Aid to announce the fund.

Charlotte Kneer MBE DL, chief executive of I Choose Freedom, said: 

“Meeting the Minister today is important for us at I Choose Freedom. I am grateful that she has visited one of our refuges so that she can see for herself the reality women and children are facing when they have fled domestic abuse.

“We are hearing from women on a regular basis that they have considered returning to an abuser because they cannot afford to live. This is heart-breaking, and an outrage that women should be forced to choose between safety in our refuges or horrific abuse.

“The fund announced today is a great start and recognition that the government is listening to the voices of survivors. We hope that further funding will be announced soon: it cannot be right that a victim of domestic abuse cannot leave because they can’t afford to survive. I Choose Freedom works hard to support survivors, but we cannot continue to do this on a shoestring and we’re grateful to the Minister for hearing our concerns.” 

 Women’s Aid Ambassador, personal trainer and best selling author Alice Liveing attended the announcement today. Alice said:

“As a survivor, I know how hard it can be to leave an abuser – women face so many barriers, ranging from self-doubt resulting from the abuse to not even recognising that what you’re experiencing is abuse. Financial challenges should not present yet another hurdle for women to get over, and I am so glad to help launch this initiative.” 

Notes to editors 

Contact the Women’s Aid Press Office at [email protected] or 020 7566 2511. 

1Survivors eligible for the fund will have experienced one of more of the following, either at the time, or within 12 months, of application/referral:  

  • Financial dependency on partner or family member 
  • Requires funds to flee abuse 
  • Unable to meet debt repayments   
  • Unable to replace/purchase essential goods for self/children 
  • Unable to access their own money due to abuse 
  • Unable to meet housing costs/rent payments whilst in refuge 
  • Unable to access appropriate housing 
  • Unable to access benefits, waiting for benefits claims to be processed or with no recourse to public funds 
  • Unable to care for their children or other caring responsibilities with family members 

This fund will be open to migrant women with no recourse to public funds, who face severe, additional barriers to accessing support. 

About Women’s Aid 

Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. Since 1974 we have been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic abuse, with survivors at the heart of our work. We are a federation of just under 170 organisations which provide just under 300 local lifesaving services to women and children across the country.

Our support services, which include our Live Chat Helpline, the Survivors’ Forum, the No Woman Turned Away Project, the Survivor’s Handbook, Love Respect (our dedicated website for young people in their first relationships), the national Domestic Abuse Directory and our advocacy projects, help thousands of women and children every year.

We provide expert training, qualifications and consultancy to a range of agencies and professionals working with survivors or commissioning domestic abuse services. Our campaigns achieve change in policy, practice and awareness, encouraging healthy relationships and helping to build a future where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated. 

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