Epidemic of violence against women and girls needs to be a key focus in the Government’s Autumn Budget

Solace has set out our recommendations for survivors of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in the Government’s Spending Review 2021 and Autumn Budget taking place on 27 October 2021 which will set out the government’s spending priorities for the Parliament.

Cost of domestic abuse

In the Home Office’s recently published VAWG strategy it states that there were 2.3 million victims of domestic abuse1 in the last year and the social and economic costs of domestic abuse have been estimated to be £66 billion (about £74 billion in today’s prices).

Within the 2019 research that originally identified the £66bn cost, this included £5 billion in direct cost to HM Treasury through central government services. This was split out into £2.3 billion in health services, £1.3 billion in police costs, £550 million in housing costs, £476 million in criminal and civil legal costs, and £724 million for services for victims; and a staggering £14bn in lost working days. There is estimated to be a further £14 billion cost in relation to time taken off work and reduced productivity.  

A Home Office assessment looking at the costs of rape and sexual offences to society and the victim, estimated this would cost the UK £12.2 billion per year. In contrast to this high cost, NHS cost savings alone from VAWG organisations amounts to over £357 million per year. We would recommend that HM Treasury seeks to develop a consistent cost figure for VAWG as a whole.  

As a specialist service supporting VAWG survivors, we see the daily costs in women and girls’ lives following their experiences. The pandemic has also led the public to become more aware of the experiences of survivors than perhaps ever before. The devastating murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, Sarah Everard and most recently Sabina Nessa have continued the public outcry against the epidemic of male violence against women. 

What Solace is calling for

Our submission called for the following key commitments from the Treasury:  

  • Support for victims and survivors including the need for sustainable funding for the violence against women and girls sector.  This should include ring-fenced funding allocated for specialist VAWG services such as those led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women, older women, Deaf and disabled women and LGBT+ survivors.
  • Ensure there is multi-year funding settlement for this new duty to provide safe accommodation for those experiencing domestic abuse so local Government and the specialist VAWG sector can work together to ensure that services can be developed which meet the local needs of survivors and are aimed at those survivors who find it harder to access current services. This funding should ensure that migrant women, including with no recourse to public funds, can be supported. 
  • Use the data collected by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner to ensure that there is sufficient funding allocated to community services and we see an end to the significant disparities in services at a local level.
  • Increase funds for counselling and therapy and specific fund to address the mental health challenges faced by domestic abuse survivors, which have increased during the pandemic and as restrictions ease. 
  • Increase funding to schools to increase their work on VAWG prevention, in collaboration with specialist services and increase funding to support children as victims of domestic abuse. 
  • Set out a multi-year funding settlement to invest in perpetrator interventions including specific funding allocated for work with young men and boys and that evidence is built on in future years to expand provision in ‘what works’. 

For our full submission see Solace Spending review submission.

We also joined the wider violence against women and girls sector to come together to write to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, to make sector wide calls for:

  • A strategic investment in VAWG specialist services to bring down harms and costs long term
  • Funding to address the inequalities in access to support and outcomes for migrant survivors.
  • A funding package for victims of online VAWG to accompany the Online Safety Bill.
  • Funding towards prevention of VAWG to implement Ofsted’s recommendation putting in place a “whole school approach” to prevent sexual harassment and abuse in schools.
  • Wider public services reform to better support victims and survivors of abuse and prevent abuse in the first place.

You can read the VAWG sector letter here.