Government announcement on supported housing funding welcomed

By agency reporter
August 10, 2018

The government has announced that it will continue to fund refuges, and all other supported housing, through housing benefit, keeping the short-term supported housing sector outside of the Universal Credit system which is being rolled out nationally.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Women’s Aid is delighted the government has listened and acted to keep refuge doors open for survivors of domestic abuse. Rent in refuges will continue to be funded through housing benefit. This will be warmly welcomed by survivors and our member services; housing benefit makes up, on average, around half of a refuge’s income. Women in refuge will still be entitled to Universal Credit for assistance with supporting themselves and their families, it is therefore vital that housing benefit continues to work with the wider Universal Credit system.

"Domestic abuse refuges save lives. With on average two women every week being killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales, refuges provide a real lifeline for thousands of women and children experiencing abuse at home. Today the government has taken decisive action to protect refuges’ last guaranteed form of funding, they must now work with us to ensure that funding for the support refuges provide for survivors is also secure.

“Women’s Aid’s national network of domestic abuse services is not only a vital safety net for when survivors flee abuse but essential to survivors’ long-term recovery. Since 2014, our SOS: Save Our Services campaign has highlighted the lifesaving work domestic abuse services do, day in day out, on increasingly uncertain, shoestring budgets. As local governments have seen their budgets squeezed, there has been a push to commission generic 'one-size-fits-all' support at lower cost, but without the security and expertise of specialist support services that we know survivors need.

"Specialist support services are the difference between survivors rebuilding their lives and independence or being faced with the awful reality of either returning to their abuser or sleeping rough. We look forward to working with the government and our member services to deliver a robust system of national oversight for life-saving refuges. By working together, we can guarantee a long-term, sustainable funding future for all domestic abuse services to ensure that every woman and child can get the help they need to rebuild their life free from fear and abuse, not just for today but for life.”

Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge said: “Housing benefit is an essential source of income for women’s refuges – previous proposals would have devolved this critical funding to local authorities which have no obligation to fund refuges. This could have led to the collapse of refuge provision across the country; a national travesty. Thankfully this disaster has been averted. And yet the reality remains that there are still too few places of refuge accommodation to meet the ever growing demand.

“Refuge urges the Government to ensure that its ‘once in a generation’ Domestic Abuse Bill commits sufficient, long-term, sustainable funding for specialist services, including providing enough refuge provision to meet the needs of survivors in the country today."

* Read the government announcement here

* Refuge

* Women's Aid


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