Women’s Aid responds to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s funding announcement
Lucy Hadley, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Women’s Aid said
“We welcome the £125 million allocated to councils to fund the statutory duty, which is vital for stopping women and children escaping abuse from being turned away from the safety they need. However, Women’s Aid estimates that £173.8 million is needed for a sustainable national network of refuge services alone, and wider investment is needed in community-based services across the country.
We also fear that without changes to the duty itself there is a risk that survivors will be housed in unsafe and unsuitable forms of housing. Currently, the domestic abuse bill does not mention refuge services – which deliver the lifesaving, expert support needed by women and children escaping abuse – at all.
There remains a 30% shortfall in the number of refuge spaces in England and in 2019-20 over half of the referrals to refuges were turned away. Black and minoritised women, women with insecure immigration status, disabled women and those experiencing other forms of discrimination continue to face the biggest barriers to accessing a refuge space.
We need much stronger oversight to safeguard the future of this national network of services – including specialist refuges led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women who have been disproportionately impacted by local cuts and poor commissioning decisions. Changes to the domestic abuse bill to deliver equal protection and support for migrant survivors also remain urgently needed.”