Cuts to domestic abuse support services

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2017 National Women's Conference
13 October 2016

As cuts continue around the country one area which continues to suffer is the support for domestic abuse.

It is seen as an area to easily make cuts when in fact these are the very services which are saving women’s lives.

Leaving any relationship can be a difficult and challenging time, but imagine having to cope with leaving an emotionally or physically abusive partner. You don’t want to put your own friends and family at risk by turning to them for support so where do you turn? For many women refuges are the only option- that or the streets, making them even more vulnerable. Women accessing refuges have stared into the face of death. It is their final option, and not a decision taken lightly, they will have suffered at the hands of their abuser for more than likely a significant period of time.

However despite the essential need for these services the Tory government once again chose to take advantage of the most vulnerable in society, slashing funding available. Refuges are often full to capacity, having turned dozens of women away.

According to the Crime survey for England and Wales since 2010 violent crimes against women has increased significantly following a previous downwards trend since 1994 showing exactly which way this government is moving.(1)

According to UK refuges Online (May 2016) There are 361 domestic abuse services in England run by 228 different organisations. 272 of these services include refuge services. An insignificant number when compared to the women who need to access them.(2)

Women’s Aid highlight 92 women and their 75 children were turned away from the refuge services responding to their annual survey on just one day in 2015 because they could not be accommodated (data provided by 129 refuges)

In addition their survey highlighted 44% (72 services) of services responding to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2015 were running an area of work without dedicated funding during the previous financial year (2)

Anyone of us could become a victim at anytime.

We ask the National Women‘s Committee to work with the NEC, Labour Link, regions and relevant organisations to:

1) Increase the awareness of the continued cuts to domestic abuse support services and the impact this has.

2) Work with regions and labour link to challenge the continued cuts to domestic abuse support services.

3) Encourage regional women’s SOGs to engage with local domestic abuse services to increase awareness of the issues they face and the support UNISON can provide through networking.

4) Lobby government and MP’s to create a dedicated domestic abuse support funding stream, which is appropriate for the level of need.