More and more cuts mean refuges can provide less and less!

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2018 National Women's Conference
27 September 2017

Since the implementation of the Tory government’s policy of austerity, significant cuts to services have been experienced across all sectors. The impact of this is not least felt by those services dedicated to providing support, safe spaces and sanctuary for women who have experienced domestic violence. Refuge services across the country have been decimated by these insidious public-sector cuts. Central government would have all believe that funds are still being made available to refuge services with them being enabled through devolved funding allocation from local authorities. However, local authorities have the power to decide of course by how much they determine these services to need. Research from Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) found that 152 councils across England had cut spending on services for vulnerable women by an average of £44,914 per council*.

Furthermore, in the past funding was provided in a ‘lump sum’ to refuge services directly to enable them to fund, staff and maintain refuge services. Changes in funding allocation means that funding is now provided on a ‘per-head’ basis and paid in effect based on what a local authority has determined per capita it would cost a refuge to provide the services. This brings with it a major amount of inflexibility in relation to what the refuge can or can’t do with the funding it receives, where previously the refuge themselves would be able to determine how the allocated funds were used to support their services. This inflexibility in service provision means that more and more refuge providing services can do less and less. At a time when access to these essential services is vitally necessary it is shameful that persistent austerity cuts continue to decimate ability for an ever-shrinking number of organisations to provide these services; data provided by 131 refuges in 2016 demonstrated that on one day 78 women along with their 78 children were turned away from refuges because they could not be accommodated*.

We call upon National Women’s Committee to:

• Work with National Executive Committee to develop a campaign which raises the profile of these issues.

• Work with labour link to highlight this as a continuing and escalating issue and ask them to take this issue to parliament and lobby for change in relation to the per capita funding of refuges by local authorities and a return of guaranteed lump sum funding for refuge services.

*Source: Women’s Aid website.