Refuge responds to the Spring Budget

 
In response to today’s budget announcement, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said:

“Refuge is disappointed that despite announcing significant increases in Government spending in today’s budget, there were no announcements on funding for domestic abuse specialist services. Austerity cuts have decimated domestic abuse services – with Refuge seeing more than 80% of its services experiencing cuts in real terms.

We welcome the commitment to funding for rape survivors and trialling the use of domestic abuse courts. However, the Government needs to fund a full suite of services with specialist services at its core, not adopt a piecemeal approach. The funding made available is simply a drop in the ocean compared to the funds needed. It is in everyone’s interest to adopt a three pronged approach – provision, prevention and protection. Only by doing this can we hope to end violence against women and girls.

The Government has committed to creating a legal duty to provide refuge accommodation in the Domestic Abuse Bill – but this legislative change will only make a real difference to the more than 6,500 survivors Refuge supports on any given day if it is met with the funding needed to provide more emergency refuge spaces. Women’s lives depend on this and we are disappointed that today’s budget failed to allocate funding to domestic abuse services.

We have seen today that the Government is willing to spend money where it is needed – finding 500 million pounds to fund pothole repairs, but remaining silent on refuge funding. It is a glaring omission not to extend the ‘get things done’ approach to funding domestic abuse services to save women’s lives. It is estimated that the funding needed for refuges is 173 million pounds annually – around a third of the money allocated for pothole repairs.

With nearly one in three women aged 16-59 experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime, and two women every week across England and Wales killed by a former or current partner, we need to see real commitments to creating long term change. This can only happen by putting forward ring-fenced cash to support women and children escaping domestic abuse.

The Chancellor has today committed to launch a new spending review, to conclude in July. We hope that this review, and the upcoming second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill will be an opportunity for the Government to make the commitments that are missing today and so desperately needed, to ensure that no woman or child fleeing abuse is ever turned away from accessing the support they need.

We look forward to working with the Government to implement its commitment to transforming the response to domestic abuse. Women’s lives depend on it and this opportunity must not be lost.”

For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.