Women’s Aid responds to The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s announcement of refuge funding for 2020-21
16th October 2019
Today, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s has announced an additional £15 million for domestic abuse services in 2020/1. Councils will be invited to bid for a share of the funding to ‘ensure support services are able to run for those that need them’.
This funding announcement comes ahead of Government plans to implement a new legal duty on local authorities to provide support in ‘secure accommodation’ for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, creating a new statutory system for the funding of refuges and other services within the community. This new legal framework is a significant step in the right direction, and should help to ensure consistent refuge provision across the country to end the postcode lottery that survivors currently face when seeking safety.
Despite welcoming emergency pots of funding from the government, short-term, uncertain budgets are failing to deliver a secure future for life-saving services. Many organisations are running an area of their services without any dedicated funding at all. Some receive no financial support at all from their local authority; nearly one in ten refuges who responded to our annual survey reported that they received no local authority funding in 2017/18. The financial challenges facing these organisations of course have an impact on the support they can deliver to women and children.
The government’s proposed statutory duty will be underpinned by national funding, the level of which has not yet been announced.
Nicki Norman, acting co-chief executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“If we do not meet the needs of survivors and their children when they first reach out for help, more women and children’s lives will be put at risk and the costs to society will only spiral. We know that accessing specialist support is often the difference between the survivor and her children escaping domestic abuse or being trapped with the abuser.
By investing even just a fraction of the money domestic abuse costs society in our network of specialist services, we can make sure that every survivor and child can rebuild their lives free from fear.
Emergency funding for specialist domestic abuse services is always welcome news and we are pleased to see the Government’s commitment to keeping refuge doors open for another year. But as the national network of refuges is currently unable to support every survivor seeking safety, we look forward to a long-term funding solution delivered through the landmark new domestic abuse bill. The proposed new statutory duty on local authorities must resolve the challenges our member services have long seen with short-term pots of funding that don’t provide a secure funding solution for their life-saving work, or recognise their expertise in supporting women and children fleeing abuse. It must also be backed by the national oversight required to ensure no survivor is turned away in the future – and that highly specialised services, including those led by and for black and minority ethnic women who have lost most under localism, are safeguarded in the future. We look forward to working with the government and our members to make this happen.”
For more information contact [email protected] or call 0207 566 2511.