Labour has promised £3 million in new funding for women’s refuges. Whilst we are committed to proper funding of public services, including assisting the survivors of domestic violence, it appears that the Tory-led Government is not.
Women's Aid is the national domestic violence charity which works to end violence against women and children. It is an umbrella group, helping up to 250,000 women and children every year, and supporting over 350 domestic and sexual violence services across the country.
Their Annual Survey for 2014 was published on 15 January 2015. It makes shocking reading, but alas it is not surprising given the Coalition government’s desire to cut services and take the UK back to the 1930s. Moreover, the survey is for the period April 2013 through March 2014 – and things have undoubtedly got worse since then…
Women’s Aid’s main findings are:
- Almost one third (31%) of referrals to refuges were turned away because of lack of space;
- 37% of organisations were running services without having dedicated funding (data provided by 132 services). Of these 49 organisations, 32 of them (= 65%), were running services on reserves, and 12 of them (= 24%) were running services on a voluntary basis;
- 13% of organisations had suspended or closed an area of service because of lack of funding (data provided by 132 services);
- 42% of responding specialist children and young people’s services reported having difficulties in placing children living in refuge in schools (data provided by 90 services);
- 44% of responding organisations reported encountering problems in accessing mental health services for children and young people (data provided by 90 services);
- 74% of women accommodated came from a different Local Authority area to the refuge (4,177 women; data provided by 110 services);
- 110 refuge services supported 6,163 women and 6,665 children;
- 109 services providing non-refuge support assisted supported 74,500 women and 13,701 children in services in the community.
As the Chief Executive of Women’s Aid Polly Neate so aptly put it:
“This year’s Annual Survey sadly demonstrates the real crisis that our domestic violence services in England are in. Not only reduced resources but also, crucially, poor decisions about how those resources are spent are directly impacting the women and children for whom these services are literally a lifeline. This follows a similar pattern to the findings from last year.”
Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West