Council control could see thousands of refuges closed

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Government plans to give local councils sole control over housing funds could lead to thousands of domestic violence refuges closing, Women’s Aid has claimed.

Currently housing benefit provides shelters for female domestic violence (DV) victims with their primary source of income. Like all benefits, it is paid by the government directly to the individual recipient. But under the new proposals, the money would instead be given to local councils, who would then distribute to services and residents in their regions as they saw fit.

According to Women’s Aid, this could lead to a full third of the DV refuges being forced to close down and over 4,000 women and children becoming homeless. The claim is based on a survey. The 61 female shelters who responded said they believed they would have to  cut 588 spaces under spending cutbacks, which means, Women’s Aid claim, that 2,058 women’s places and 2,202 children’s places could be at risk across the 270 female DV refuges currently open. Just under 40 per cent of the respondents said they thought they might have to close altogether.

The key problem, claim the charity, is that many women fleeing violent partners travel to shelters some distance from their homes and therefore in other local authority areas, in order to try and minimise the chances of being found by their persecutors. This means assessments of purely local need may not paint a true picture of the demand for spaces.

Katie Ghose is the current chief executive of Women’s Aid. She said:

 “Demand for refuges already far outstrips supply and the proposed funding model could be the breaking point. Refuges will be faced with the awful reality of either turning more women and children away or closing their doors forever.”

Caroline Lucas of the Green Party was equally condemnatory, telling The Independent:

“There’s simply no excuse for slashing this funding when refuges are already in a precarious situation. These changes could endanger women and children’s lives. Ministers should scrap these proposed changes, and put forward plans that will safeguard refuges for the long term and protect women and children.”

Photo by Alan Levine via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

spinner - November 29, 2017 at 4:36pm

If they shut down all the government funded womens refuges we could at least achieve equality between men and women in this area given there are zero government funded refuges for men even though they make up nearly 50% of the victims.

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