Refuge responds to Government announcement of a £76 million fund to support the ‘most vulnerable’
In response to the Government’s announcement today of a £76m fund to support the ‘most vulnerable’, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said:
“Refuge welcomes the Government’s announcement today to pledge further funds to specialist organisations working to address domestic abuse. This funding will help support frontline services at a time when they are needed more than ever. Refuge has seen demand for its services increase significantly since the necessary lockdown measures were announced – Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline has seen demand rise by around 50%, indicating the sheer numbers of women who need support.
Refuge is pleased also to hear the Government announce that women escaping domestic abuse will be recognised as requiring priority housing. Refuge has long argued that the previous housing requirement to show an ‘additional vulnerability’ risked women having to make an unthinkable decision – to stay with an abusive partner or risk homelessness. We hope this announcement will come into effect quickly and we stand ready to work with the Government to ensure swift implementation.
The funding measures announced today are of particular importance to both specialist accommodation based services and community outreach. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announcement of a £10 million fund for safe accommodation services offers a lifeline to refuges during this crisis. Frontline services have been decimated through years of austerity cuts and the current crisis has had a huge impact on these life-saving and life-changing services. It is crucial that everything possible is done to ensure refuge accommodation services remain safe and remain open.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) funding to support community based services will also provide much needed support at a time when these services look for different ways to meet demand. We look forward to hearing more detail from the Government on how this will be allocated and prioritised.
The package of funds is welcome – and will help to plug some of the gaps left by a decade of austerity cuts. In addition to funding, we look forward to working with the Government to make legislative change – starting with ensuring that the Domestic Abuse Bill, which earlier this week returned to Parliament for its second reading, is as bold and transformative as it has the potential to be.
Ensuring policy change in parallel with increased funding will make a huge difference to the lives of the thousands of women and children Refuge supports on any given day. With two women a week in England and Wales killed by a current or former partner and almost one in three women experiencing domestic abuse at some point in their lives, Refuge knows just how urgent these changes are. Women’s lives depend on them becoming a reality”.
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