Earlier this week, the government announced that they would be ensuring local councils are providing secure homes for those experiencing domestic abuse. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, hopes that this will end the current postcode lottery for services, protecting many women and children currently unable to access refuges and other support services.
How the New System Will Work
Local councils will have a legal duty to provide refuge services and will receive funding from the Treasury to deliver this. The amount of money that is being made available is currently unknown. A government consultation will determine how much is needed and what other factors need to be considered.
The government hopes that a consistent approach across the country will enable more people to access services, offering greater support to those with additional needs. Local authorities will also be required to develop and publish strategies which set out in detail the range of support services available for survivors and their children – including refuge accommodation and specialist support from safety through to independence.
Women’s Aid found that 60% of refuge referrals in 2017/18 were declined, with over 1 in 6 of these due to a lack of space. The current levels of refuge provisions in the UK fall below the recommendations set by the Council of Europe. With insufficient refuge spaces available, some people are forced to stay with the perpetrator of abuse, putting themselves at risk of further serious harm.
Funding is also a key issue – Women’s Aid found that around 1 in 10 refuges received no local authority funding in 2017/18. Without the guarantee of long-term funding, it makes it hard for the services to keep running.
Greater Refuge Provision
We hope that this announcement will see greater refuge provisions made available, ensuring that fewer people are turned away from services. Specific considerations must also be provided across the board for LGBT+ people, those with additional needs, and people from a black or minority ethnic background. At the minute there is quite limited support available for these groups, meaning they end up with generic support that doesn’t fully meet their needs or they don’t access support at all.
As well as providing new refuge spaces, existing services must be reinforced with additional funding – especially in the instances of those running with little or no funding from local authorities.
Leeway Chief Executive, Mandy Proctor, said:
“This is fantastic news, which will hopefully provide a long-term solution to the funding of refuges. Refuges are so important, providing safe accommodation for those fleeing abusive relationships and it is vital that these services are accessible to all. We will be sharing our thoughts as part of the consultation, to make sure that the needs of survivors are met and that their voices are heard.”
While we wait for the new system to be set up, Leeway will continue to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the services (including refuges) that are available for those experiencing it. If you would like to know more about any of the services we provide, please get in touch. You can call Leeway on 0300 561 0077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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