Refuge responds to the Autumn Statement
Responding to the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement, Refuge interim CEO, Ellen Miller, said:
“At Refuge we know the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on survivors of domestic abuse, making it far more difficult to rebuild their lives independently, forcing them into long-term debt and in some cases, to stay with their abusers.
Refuge welcomes the £12 million additional funding for domestic abuse measures announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement. We campaigned alongside Women’s Aid for an emergency fund to directly deal with the cost-of-living crisis and the impact it is having on so many survivors, and we are pleased to see £2 million added to this flexible fund making more one-off payments available to women who urgently need it.
Since the cost-of-living crisis began Refuge’s technology-facilitated abuse and economic empowerment team have supported survivors with increasingly complex cases. Increased awareness and understanding about economic abuse is vital and we welcome this £10 million fund to tackle the economic impacts of domestic abuse and support survivors within workplaces. We know how a lack of affordable housing is preventing many survivors from fleeing abusers and means survivors are spending longer in emergency accommodation such as refuges. So we support the lifting of the freeze on local housing allowance which has been capped too low for too long, intensifying the link between domestic abuse and homelessness. No woman should be forced to choose between staying with an abuser and sleeping on the streets.
Whilst Refuge supports these measures announced yesterday the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector remains chronically underfunded. If the government is serious about investing in protecting women’s lives more desperately needs to be done. Refuge, alongside sector partners, continue to call for adequate, sustainable funding for community-based services to be introduced in the Victims and Prisoners Bill currently making its way through Parliament. 95% of survivors we support access services in their local communities but throughout the country provision of these services is patchy and many are unable to meet demand due to a lack of funding.
We are calling on the government to invest at least £238 million per year in specific funding for community-based services via the Bill’s Duty to Collaborate- without new funding the Victims Bill cannot achieve its ambition to support victim survivors and their families. Not only will this investment save women’s lives, but it will also make significant cost savings to society. Every £1 invested in specialist domestic abuse support services makes at least £9 in savings to the public purse by reducing pressure on statutory services and ensuring the right response is delivered first time.”