Women’s Aid responds to Work and Pensions Select Committee report on Universal Credit and domestic abuse
Wednesday 1st August 2018
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“Universal Credit was not designed with survivors’ safety in mind. We have long been warning that Universal Credit risks making the domestic abuse worse for survivors and putting an additional barrier in the way of them escaping the abuse. That’s why we welcome the Work & Pensions Select Committee report and urge the government to take action to make Universal Credit safe for survivors.
“We know from our work with survivors that abusers will exploit single household payments, yet applying for a split payment can also be dangerous. If the abuser finds out that a survivor has made an application, she may be at further risk. We urge the government to follow the report’s recommendations to collect data and evaluate how split payments are working to ensure they are delivering a safe solution for survivors. We hope the Department for Work and Pensions will work closely with the Scottish Government to develop a ‘split payment’ by default system for the future.
“We are calling for comprehensive and ongoing domestic abuse training, co-delivered by specialists like Women’s Aid, for all JobCentre Plus staff to ensure that they can identify domestic abuse, including coercive control, and understand how to support survivors effectively. The Committee’s recommendations for comprehensive training for Work Coaches and measures to ensure every JobCentre Plus is a safe place for a survivor are urgently needed. It is essential that a survivor receives the right response and can access vital support, whoever she reaches out to.
“We particularly welcome calls to pay Universal Credit to the main carer in all households where there is a child. Women are overwhelmingly the primary care giver to children, and also overwhelmingly the victim of domestic abuse. If implemented, this would be a step forward in protecting survivors and their children from financial abuse.
“It is clear from this report that there are major concerns about the safety of Universal Credit in cases where there is domestic abuse. We call on the Department for Work and Pensions to act on the Committee’s recommendations. We are ready and willing to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver a Universal Credit system that has survivors’ safety at heart.”
If you are worried about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.
For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 / [email protected]