As you know, Women’s Aid is currently fighting off government plans reform how housing costs in refuges are paid from 2020. The government’s consultation on funding for supported housing sets out a proposal to end housing benefit entitlement to women living in refuge, and transfer housing funds to local authorities to administer to ‘short-term supported housing services’ in their local areas.
The consultation on this proposal is open until 23rd January 2018, and we have produced a template response for members to use and submit. We urge you to send a response to this consultation, as we need to show the government that these plans risk dismantling our world-leading national network of women’s refuges.
The proposed local model would mean that complete responsibility and resourcing for refuges falls to local authorities. It would also combine the commissioning and provision of specialist refuges with other forms of short-term housing – such as hostels for homeless people, housing for young people and those with substance misuse issues – in a ‘one size fits all’ model. This is wholly inappropriate for the national network of refuges, and would have severe consequences for the specialist refuges who do not currently receive any local authority funding at all.
Women’s Aid carried out an emergency survey with refuge providers in England on the impact of the government’s proposals, which 60 refuge services responded to. The findings have demonstrated the catastrophic impact of this proposed model. Over a third, 39%, of refuge services responding would have to close completely and a further 13% of the refuge services in our survey would reduce the spaces available in their refuges. We estimate that this would mean a loss of 588 spaces in total, and 4000 more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving services they desperately need. As only one third of refuges in England responded to the survey, this loss of provision is likely to just be the tip of the iceberg.
We are sending an SOS signal to Government to urgently halt these plans, and work with Women’s Aid to create a suitable and sustainable future funding model for our life-saving services.
Please join us by submitting a response to the consultation. You can download the template response here.