Women’s Aid shares findings and recommendations to future Government for long-term domestic abuse funding

Today, May 23rd, 2024, the national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid, brought together representatives across all major political parties to share findings of a ground-breaking paper, Funding Safer Futures: A government pathway for the quantity and quality of funding required to help women and children experiencing domestic abuse, detailing how funding for the domestic abuse sector could be improved and the target £427 million investment reached by the next Government.  

The tragic reality is that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic at some point in their lives and the domestic abuse sector is facing ongoing challenges that leave many survivors facing a postcode lottery of support, with women and children being turned away at their point of need. Women’s Aid has been calling for sustainable investment in specialist support services for survivors, which has the potential to save the taxpayer money. In 2022, the economic and social costs of domestic abuse in England were estimated to be just under £71 billion. With the adequate provision of specialist support services, at the cost of £427 million, the domestic abuse sector could save the public purse as much as £23 billion a year. Every pound invested in domestic abuse support services will see a saving to the Exchequer of at least £9.  

The Women’s Aid event presented the findings of a new paper which detailed how this investment could be achieved by a future government. Women’s Aid have reviewed current spending on local domestic abuse services and estimate that, in 2023-24, the government spent £195 million on local domestic abuse services in England, resulting in a £232 million shortfall compared to the £427 million needed. The report sets out how a future government could deliver the level of funding required, by: building on the £195 million currently being spent within DLUHC, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office; securing new investment from further government departments; and generating savings from scrapping programmes  – such as the Reducing Parental Conflict scheme – which are not supporting safety and recovery for survivors of domestic abuse.  

The paper’s recommendations also include calls for:   

  • An end to one-off, short-term national funding pots which fail to meet demand and tend to focus on ‘innovative’ project instead of core service delivery   
  • Ring-fenced ‘by and for’ funding that will ensure ongoing support for minoritised women, alongside provision for women with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)  
  • A commitment to cross-Government definitions of specialist services and a pledge from all relevant Government departments to adhere to these definitions, thus making sure the funding goes to the right services for survivors  
  • Robust statutory guidance to ensure accountability and make it clear what commissioners ‘must’ and ‘should’ do when it comes to commissioning domestic abuse provision   
  • A national oversight mechanism to be established to provide robust accountability for the provision of support to adult and child survivors  
  • The next government to immediately undertake a review of funding for local and national domestic abuse, and wider VAWG, support services 

In addition to presenting the paper’s findings, the event, which was attended by political figures, campaigners, Women’s Aid members, journalists, corporate partners and celebrities, with the pillars outlined in Women’s Aid General Election manifesto central to the panel discussions. The panels and sessions were: 

    • Invest to save: Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Treasury, and Business and Industrial Strategy, Nimco Ali, CEO Five Foundation, Katie Binns, Sunday Times writer, Caroline Nokes MP, Chair Women & Equalities Committee, chaired by Women’s Aid CEO, Farah Nazeer. 
    • Support survivors: Asmita Sood, Policy, campaigns and public affairs manager from Southall Black Sisters, Amtal Rana, CEO of Koran Support Services, Kate Osiadacz, Head of Responsible Business, TSB, and Sumi Rabindrakumar Trussell Trust, chaired by Women’s Aid head of policy, Lucy Hadley.  
    • Preventing abuse: Ellie Softley, Head of Education, Everyone’s Invited, Helen Hayes MP, Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, Alex Davies-Jones MP – Shadow Minister for Safeguarding, and Tech and Digital Economy, chaired by Women’s Aid director of people, Rufsana Begum. 
    • Tackling society’s ‘dirty secret’: Phoenix Brown, Melanie Brown MBE’s daughter, Celebrity Campaigner and Ambassador, Payzee Mahmod, Online Campaign Manager IKWRO and Malin Anderson, Celebrity Campaigner, chaired by Caroline Iggulden, Deputy Editor, The Sun. 
    • Four nations plenary: Farah Nazeer, CEO of Women’s Aid Federation England, Marsha Scott, CEO of Scottish Women’s Aid, Sara Kirkpatrick. CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid, Sarah Mason, CEO Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland and Mary Clarke Co-Executive Director, Imkaan, chaired by Alex Davies-Jones MP – Shadow Minister for Safeguarding, and Tech and Digital Economy.

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, comments: “Today’s event proved that committing to ending domestic abuse once and for all is a national priority for all political parties. We’ve had some really productive, inspiring and challenging conversations and I am optimistic that the urgency of adequate funding for the specialist domestic abuse sector, as well as the importance of focusing our response on addressing and listening to the needs of survivors, was clearly understood by all. I am hopeful that this, and future Governments will take on board the findings of our paper on funding and implement them swiftly and effectively, ensuring that survivors and their children continue to receive access to life-saving support, whenever they need it.”   

Kate Osiadacz, Head of Responsible Business, TSB, comments: “We all have a role to play to ensure survivors of domestic abuse have routes to escape their abuser. 

“Since launching our Flee Fund we have helped almost 300 individuals seek safety and freedom with emergency payments – and we would encourage all businesses to use their resources where possible, to provide vital support measures across the country.” 

Payzee Mahmod, Online Campaign Manager IKWRO, comments: “I am pleased to represent IKWRO and take part in today’s discussion, a day dedicated to accelerating efforts to tackle violence against women and girls. Empowerment begins with awareness, and unity is our strongest tool against domestic abuse. As we gather for Women’s Aid conference, I am confident we will ignite conversations, share insights, find solutions that bring hope to survivors, call on decision makers to invest time and energy into urgent action and change societal attitudes around domestic abuse and “honour” based abuse.” 

Women’s Aid – Funding Safer Futures Report – May 2024

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