The Government urgently needs to allocate ringfenced funding to ensure survivors of domestic abuse who flee abusive homes have a safe place to go.
Public Interest Law Centre and Southall Black Sisters have launched a legal challenge to the government’s failure to provide funding for accommodation for domestic abuse survivors during Covid-19.
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As has been widely reported, women and children living in abusive homes face greater danger during lockdown due to being trapped in the home with their perpetrator(s). The project Counting Dead Women has recorded 16 killings between 23 March and 12 April 2020. This is an average of five deaths per week – over double the average of two deaths per week.
So far, the government has been slow to act despite being aware of the problem and the need to prevent the escalation of abuse.
The first announcement of specific funding did not come until nineteen days after the ‘stay at home’ guidance was introduced. On April 11th, £2 million was announced to support online services and domestic abuse helplines. The sector has yet to receive this funding.
Whilst funding for helplines is welcome, it is not an adequate crisis response. Women and children will not be able to flee abusive homes unless there is accommodation for them to move into when they are at risk. Refuges are currently full.
While domestic abuse impacts women across society, those without the financial means to leave are disproportionately affected. This includes working-class, BME and migrant women whose services have experienced the most severe cuts. Even under normal circumstances it is difficult for migrant women with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) to access refuges.
What is the point in funding domestic abuse helplines unless the government also provides accommodation for survivors who are at risk and need protection?