Women’s refuge budgets cut by almost a quarter in seven years

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Over 1,000 women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence have been turned away after budget cuts of almost a quarter. 

The funding for refuges across England has dropped from £31.2 million in 2010/2011 to just £23.9 million in 2016/17. This drop comes despite Theresa May’s pledge to boost funding to victims of domestic violence.

According to the research by Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BiJ), over 1,000 women and children have been turned away from refuge centres in the last six months.

It also found that three quarters of councils in England have reduced the amount they spend on refuges since 2010. Kensington and Chelsea Council was revealed to be one of the worst offenders of the 84 councils, with spending cut by 45 per cent since 2010.

Speaking about the revelation, Labour MP Jess Phillips, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence, said women and children would continue to ‘suffer’ unless the Government made changes:

“The Government keep saying that they are investing tens of millions into domestic violence services but this is not being felt on the ground. Domestic violence services need consistent funding they simply cannot manage living hand to mouth year on year. Unless we get this right women and children will suffer.”

Prime Minister Theresa May promised plans to tackle domestic violence with a £20 million boost in funding, but 50 local authorities haven’t received any money.

The lack of funds have forced one shelter to put it’s entire staff on notice for fear of closure. Statistics by the Office for National Statistics revealed that two women a week in England and Wales are killed by their partner or ex.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, told The Independent that 78 women and children were turned away on a single day in 2016.

She said: “The Government has promised to tackle domestic abuse through its landmark Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and make survivors safe in the knowledge that the state “will do everything it can to both support them and their children.”

“We fully support the Government’s ambitions but fear that the Bill’s potential will be undermined if these lifesaving specialist refuges are not properly funded. We urge the Government to commit to the sustainable, long-term funding of a national network of refuges and ensure that the housing benefit refuges rely on will be protected.”

“The Government must commit to save these lifesaving services so that all women and their children can safely escape from domestic abuse.”

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