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Mar 17

Women’s Aid reveals fear that services could face closure

National domestic violence charity Women’s Aid has published the results of its survey of the effects of the proposed cuts to domestic and sexual violence services. The survey suggests that:

  • 60% of refuge services have no funding agreed from 1st April 2011
  • 72% of outreach services have no funding agreed from 1st April 2011

Comparisons of this special survey with annual survey figures for refuge and outreach use for 2009/10 suggest that nationally over 70,000 women, and their children, might not be able to access a service after April 2011.

Women’s Aid is concerned about:

  • Disproportionate impact of the cuts on specialist domestic and sexual violence services
  • Significant reductions in the vital help and support available to women and children at risk
  • The impact of reduced services on victims – increased prevalence of domestic and sexual violence, with the risk of an increase in domestic homicides, as well as increased pressure on shrinking health, local authority and criminal justice resources.

Women’s Aid is urging all MPs to join the national Save Survivors’ Services campaign to protect lifesaving violence against women services in their constituencies.

Nicola Harwin CBE, Chief Executive of the national charity, Women’s Aid, said:

“The proposed cuts to the national network of domestic and sexual violence services are absolutely devastating, although sadly not unexpected. We are particularly concerned that the removal of ring fenced funding for Supporting People last year coupled with cuts to local authority budgets has created a situation where councils across the country are making disproportionate cuts and rash decisions at the expense of protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society. Reducing specialist domestic violence services will inevitably result in increased demands on other shrinking services such as healthcare, police and social service departments, also under pressure, as well as putting the lives of the most vulnerable women and children at risk. It has taken 40 years to build the current national network of services which enables us to take women out of their area when needed to protect them and their children from their violent partner. Even with the current level of service provision, we still only have three-quarters of the bedspaces we need, yet we are in a position where we could potentially lose half of our services. As we celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day, and 100 years of work to end violence and promote women’s equality this seems particularly sad. We urge all local authorities to consider the damaging effect withdrawing specialist domestic and sexual violence services will have and rethink.”

To support the Saving Survivors’ Services campaign please go to www.womensaid.org.uk.