Immense cost of domestic abuse to the British taxpayer revealed


Refuge, the national domestic abuse charity, welcomes the draft Bill announced by the Government today and is pleased to see that it reflects many of the concerns of survivors of abuse and those working with them.

“Refuge staff deal with the human misery of domestic violence every day. The cost to women and children’s lives is devastating. But now the immense cost to the taxpayer has been laid bare, too. Domestic violence is truly everybody’s business,” said Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge.

Sadly, though, it comes as no surprise to Refuge that domestic abuse is costing the British public £66 billion per year. Refuge staff know only too well the scale and hidden nature of domestic abuse in the country, with 1 in 4 women affected during their lifetime. Every day they see the devastating and long-lasting impact on survivors and their children.

Domestic abuse affects women from all walks of life, much of it non-physical abuse. All too often domestic violence is still seen as a private matter. In addition to a tougher criminal justice response, we need to raise awareness of the different forms of abuse, challenge the root causes which lie in gender inequality and male control over women, and ensure sustainable funding for services to protect survivors.

“This Bill represents a once in a generation opportunity to address domestic violence; but in order to do so, we must ensure its aspirations are matched by adequate resource”, said Ms. Horley.

Refuge recognises the many positive provisions in the draft Bill. We applaud the Government for taking action to end cross-examination of victims by perpetrators in the family courts. Recognising the plight of abused women whose immigration status excludes them from accessing state services is also a critical step in the right direction. We welcome the inclusion of economic abuse in the Government’s definition of domestic abuse. Refuge has been highlighting this issue for years, economic abuse has a crippling impact on victims and prevents many from leaving their abuser. We are also delighted that, alongside the Bill, the Government will be working on funding options for accommodation. Specialist services, including refuges, are essential to saving survivors’ lives and helping them regain control of their lives.

But the Government must go further and tackle some of the critical problems Refuge staff see on a daily basis, such as housing and quick access to welfare support for survivors when they flee abuse.

If its aim of ‘transforming the response to domestic abuse’ is to be achieved, more investment will be required.

Refuge will continue to work closely with the Government to ensure the final Bill truly meets the needs of the women and children we support.

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