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Sep 5th, 2016

Save Women’s Refuges

By Louie Herbert

We can’t thank you enough for the incredible support that you have given to Women’s Aid’s campaigns over the last two years.

Together, with our SOS Campaign, we have secured an additional £33 million in funding for lifesaving domestic abuse services and refuges, with our Child First campaign we have highlighted the need to make the family courts safe for survivors of domestic abuse, after 19 children and two women were killed by a known perpetrator of domestic abuse in circumstances relating to unsafe child contact over a ten year period. Together, we have made a real difference for survivors of domestic abuse.

Sadly, today, we need your help again.

Women’s refuges, the life-saving services that women and children survivors of domestic abuse flee to when they have exhausted all other options in order to be safe, are once again at risk of closure.

The Government’s plans to cap Housing Benefit at Local Housing Allowance rates from the 1st April 2017, will mean that many refuges will simply no longer be able to provide vital support and accommodation to women in crisis. Housing Benefit is the life-blood of many refuges. It pays for women and children’s rent while they stay in refuge, and picks up the cost of essential building and maintenance charges for shared accommodation.

The planned cuts will have catastrophic unintended consequences for women’s refuges, as well as the entire supported accommodation sector. A survey of our member refuges services found that 67% of refuges will close down if this plan goes ahead and 87% will not be able to continue with their current level of provision. Many services have told us that they will be losing hundreds of pounds per week, leaving them in a financially unviable position.

Ministers say that a decision on this policy will be made in the Autumn, but refuges cannot continue under this level of uncertainty. We are calling on the Department for Work and Pensions to exempt refuges from the LHA cap now. Only a full exemption will ensure that refuges can continue to provide their vital support to some of the most vulnerable women and children in our communities. This Government has shown real commitment to protecting refuges from funding cuts and we are confident that with your support we can keep refuges safe once again.

Please help us by sending a tweet to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), asking them to exempt refuges from this policy today or write to your MP asking them to call on Government to make this change now.

Tweet the DWP: https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/1328

Email your MP: https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/1330

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