Women’s Aid responds: government funding for safe accommodation for domestic abuse survivors
The government has confirmed funding for safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse as part of the delivery of the Domestic Abuse Act: £257 million will be allocated to councils across England to make sure safe accommodation spaces such as refuges and shelters can provide vital support.
Responding to this, Lucy Hadley, head of policy at Women’s Aid said:
“We are pleased to see the government confirm funding for safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse: the £257 million allocated to councils over two years is a core part of implementing the Domestic Abuse Act, and represents a slight increase in spending compared to previous years. However, this figure falls significantly short of the amount needed: Women’s Aid estimates that at least £409 million is needed per year to sustainability fund all specialist domestic abuse services in England -which works out at over £800m over two years as a minimum.
“In addition, the government must ensure councils fund the right evidenced-based specialist services that women and children need. Women’s Aid’s research shows that, in 2020-21, 62% of all referrals received in refuge services were rejected. Far too many women and children are being turned away from safety. In particular, Black and minoritised women, women with insecure immigration status, disabled women and those experiencing other forms of discrimination are too often turned away from the support they need.
“We remain concerned that ‘flexible’ funding can often mean that councils do not consistently fund the expert support services that women and children require. Our member services continue to report that funding for safe accommodation does not always reach their lifesaving refuges, but is diverted to other organisations without their expertise and, in some cases, to within councils to set up new services themselves. This funding must be ring-fenced for specialist refuge services, and services led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women, who meet the legal definition of “safe accommodation” in the Domestic Abuse Act. Councils must fund the existing network of specialist refuges across the country, who have been serving women and children for decades, and who deliver the best value for money for the taxpayer.
“The national network of specialist refuges continues to face significant funding challenges, and the cost of living crisis has only made this worse. Our research shows services are dealing with soaring costs, with energy increases of over 300%, and many are concerned about how they will support women over winter. Without further support, these vital services are at high risk of closure.”