Women’s Aid responds to the Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation National Expert Steering Group Annual Progress Report


Lucy Hadley, head of policy at Women’s Aid, comments:  


“We welcome the publication of the second progress report on the delivery of statutory duty for local authorities to fund support in safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse. This duty was a landmark step forward in recognising the importance of secure funding for specialist women’s refuges, who not only provide survivors with a place of safety, but expert, wraparound support to thousands of women and children every year.  



“While this report found that over 50,000 individuals were supported in safe accommodation in England in 2022-23, it did not tell us about the type of support survivors received in this accommodation and whether it was provided by specialist women’s refuges. Recent research by the Office for National Statistics highlighted urgent concerns about survivors’ experiences in ‘safe accommodation’ that isn’t accompanied with a wraparound package of specialist support – women interviewed struggled to navigate complex systems to access services, felt isolated and depressed and were frightened for the safety of themselves and their children. Ensuring that the local authorities understand the value of the specialist support delivered in women’s refuges and ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women’s services is more important than ever. 

“The progress report also demonstrates some changing trends in the types of accommodation being commissioned by councils – including an increase in ‘dispersed accommodation’. These are dispersed units of housing without the communal spaces typically provided within a refuge, which can provide survivors with safe spaces in which they can come together and support one another. 


“The report also highlights that, shockingly, between 2022-23 there were over 24,000 instances where a survivor was referred to safe accommodation but was turned away from support – largely due to lack of capacity within services. We know from our research that specialist domestic abuse services continue to face a severely challenging funding landscape. Survivor cases becoming increasingly complex, combined with short term funding which doesn’t reflect the rising costs of living and problematic procurement and commissioning practices mean that a growing number of survivors are unable to access the lifesaving help they need.  

“Sadly, there remains a long way to go before refuges across the country are sustainably funded, which was a key ambition for the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. There has been welcome government funding, of £377 million between 2021-2023 to support local authorities to deliver the duty since 2021. With councils across the country facing severe funding pressures, this dedicated funding for safe accommodation remains urgently needed and we hope to see the government guarantee this beyond 2025. We forward to working with DLUHC to deepen our understanding of this data and further developing the national picture of survivors’ access to support within safe accommodation.” 

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