Many refuges for victims of domestic violence are at risk, a charity has claimed.
The government has proposed to cap the amount of housing benefit available to the supported housing sector. Many domestic violence refuges rely on this income to operate, so this cap will significantly affect them. In fact, Women’s Aid has claimed that it will result in the closure of 67 per cent of refuges in England and 69 per cent of those in Wales.
Additionally, the ones that remain open would also suffer as 87 per cent of English establishments would be unable to provide the same level of care to those it takes in. This would also be true of 100 per cent of Welsh refuges, the charity insisted this week.
Women’s Aid Chief Executive Polly Neate said the government had “shown great commitment to refuges over the past two years” so it was “simply extraordinary to undo all this good work now”.
It was important to remember that “women who flee to a refuge are running for their lives” and the service and protection they offer gives victims a chance to “truly recover from domestic abuse, and rebuild their lives with a view to long-term independence”. Neate urged the government to “exempt refuges, and other forms of supported accommodation, from these welfare reforms”.
The proposed cap “would have devastating consequences for specialist services” added Eleri Butler, Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid. A “sustainable funding model for refuges” was required “if the future of life-saving refuge services across Wales is to be secure” she insisted.
This news comes as BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers features the trial of Helen Titchener, a character who killed her partner after suffering months of domestic abuse.