Solace sign joint letter calling for the Government to commit to funding the specialist VAWG sector in today’s budget

  • Refuge, alongside Women’s Aid, Safe Lives, Solace Women’s Aid, and Agenda Alliance, are urging the Government to include funding of £427 million per year to specialist domestic abuse services in Spring Budget.
  • The coalition are also calling for a separate ringfenced ‘by and for’ funding pot to support marginalised survivors who face additional barriers when seeking domestic abuse support. 

Ahead of the Spring Budget, a coalition of VAWG organisations have issued a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC, urging the inclusion of funding for specialist domestic abuse services in budgetary plans. 

Refuge, alongside Women’s Aid, Safe Lives, Solace Women’s Aid, and Agenda Alliance, are calling on the Government to make a commitment to women and children fleeing domestic abuse by providing:  

  • £427m annual funding for specialist domestic abuse services in England; including £238 million ring-fenced for community-based services and £189 million ring-fenced for refuge services.  
  • A separate, national ‘by and for’ ringfenced funding pot to provide long overdue investment for specialist services for D/deaf and disabled, LGBTQ+, Black, minoritised, and migrant women, including those with no recourse to public funds. 

Specialist domestic abuse services provide lifesaving support to survivors in refuges and community-based settings, allowing them to find safety and rebuild their lives free from abuse, but decades of weak government commitment and chronic underfunding has left many of these services at breaking point. With the rise in local authorities issuing section 114 notices, effectively declaring bankruptcy, challenges for service providers are only set to worsen, meaning government funding is needed now more than ever.  

While the landmark Domestic Abuse Act of 2021 provided a more sustainable model for delivering safe accommodation services to survivors, the £127 million allocated to Part 4 of the act for the year 2023/24, falls far short of the estimated £189 million needed to adequately fund refuges in England.   

Further, despite being an essential service that the vast majority of survivors rely on, in 2022 less than half of survivors who wanted to access community-based services were able to. Community-based services are chronically underfunded, and survivors face a postcode lottery in accessing them.  

Funding challenges are particularly acute for specialist ‘by and for’ services who are six times less likely to receive statutory funding than generic specialist services. This means that marginalised survivors, including those with disabilities, Black and minoritised women, LGBTQ+ survivors, and those with no recourse to public funds, face additional barriers to accessing domestic abuse services than others.  

With 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, it is imperative that specialist services receive dedicated, multi-year, funding so that survivors can be given the support they need to rebuild their lives after abuse. 

The Spring Budget, which is being delivered in the same week as International Women’s Day this year, presents a vital opportunity for the Government to show their commitment to ending VAWG. Investment in specialist domestic abuse services is long-overdue and needed now more than ever. Without essential funding, domestic abuse services will continue to be squeezed, and pressure on statutory services who fill the gap left by inadequate funding commitments will increase, ultimately putting the safety of women and children at risk

Abigail Ampofo, Interim CEO of Refuge, said: 

“For decades we’ve seen Government after Government make inadequate funding commitments to chronically underfunded, but lifesaving, domestic abuse services, leaving specialist service providers, including those who have signed this letter, to fill the gaps.  

The Spring Budget presents an opportunity for the current government to renew their commitment to women and children, by providing the funding that is so desperately needed to the specialist services that support them.  

Refuge is grateful to be standing in solidarity with our sister organisations who have co-signed this letter, calling on the government to properly fund the crucial services we provide.” 

Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, comments:  
“Specialist women’s domestic abuse services across England have been facing a funding crisis for over a decade, resulting in a postcode lottery of support for women and girls. This is why we, and our sector colleagues, have written to the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget announcement.   

A shocking 1 in 4 women in England will experience domestic abuse, which is why it is imperative that £427m is made available to specialist domestic abuse services, annually. We are also calling for a separate, ring-fenced pot for ‘by and for’ services, which face additional challenges when it comes to securing funding. Women’s Aid have shown that investment in these services not only saves lives, but also saves the public purse money – as much as £23 billion a year with the right investment. It is only by working together and ensuring that services can continue providing vital support to survivors, that we can hope to create a society where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated.”

Read the letter in full here

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