By Rimante Bivainyte
Many local authorities across England, Wales and Scotland have considerably reduced funding for refuges since 2010. Out of 178 authorities, 117 authorities gave information about major amounts of money being cut for women and children refuges since 2010, forming to an average fall for each authority of £38,000 or £6.8m in total. According to the Freedom of Information Act,in the 12-month period til this year’s March, spending on refuges and shelters fell by an average of £5,500 per authority or nearly £1 million in total, with 125 authorities cutting the spending.
This significant fall in financial support is influenced by the government’s plans to remove refuges and other short-term housing from the welfare system. Instead, the government is proposing to give a guarantee grant to councils for short-term supported housing that would be aimed not only for refugees but also, for homeless people, ex-offenders and drug addicts. According to the data, there were 305 refuge services running across England and Wales in 2017.
The chief executive of Women’s Aid, Katie Ghose, commented saying: ‘In recent years, domestic abuse services have been lurching from funding crisis to funding crisis, with many refuges closing, changing hands, reducing refuge spaces or paring back on the level of support they can provide. This is a result of local commissioning practice and a reduction in local authority budgets.’
A survey which was running by the charity found that 39% of refuges responded saying that they would have to close if the funding will be completely stopped, while 13% other refuges said that they would have to reduce the number of bed spaces. According to official data, In March 2017, about 1.3 million women in England and Wales have experienced domestic abuse.