Funding for women’s refuges should be mandatory, says Starmer

The shadow Brexit secretary tweeted that it was better to ‘save lives and protect’ than ‘investigate afterwards’ [Image: Martin Argles for the Guardian].

It’s good to see MPs of the calibre of Keir Starmer fighting the Tory project to support domestic (and other) abuse.

This site demonstrated how the Tories are supporting abusers in a recent article.

The Tory government says it is providing £100m of dedicated funding for tackling violence against women and girls, lasting until 2020. This includes a £20m fund to support refuges and other accommodation-based services, which ministers say will provide 2,200 additional bed spaces.

According to whom? Is there any independent information on the cost of keeping refuges open across the UK? How do we know these bed spaces are additional, and in addition to what?

The Tories are also threatening to publish a “landmark” draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill “to protect and support victims, recognise the life-long impact domestic abuse has on children and make sure agencies effectively respond to domestic abuse”.

You know it will be a travesty.

Keir Starmer, the shadow cabinet member and former chief prosecutor, has called for mandatory funding for refuges amid criticism over a shake-up of funding for women’s services.

Abuse survivors and charities have warned the lives of vulnerable women and children will be put at risk by government plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.

On average, housing benefit makes up 53% of refuge funding and as there is no obligation for local authorities to fund refuges, is the last remaining guaranteed source of income.

Instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, the government proposes handing a “ring-fenced” grant to councils for short-term supported housing. However, this does not exclusively cover refuges – it is also aimed at older people, homeless people, offenders, people with mental illnesses and drug addicts.

The document detailing the proposals, published in October, contains a caveat that funding for refuges will be looked at in November 2018, but provides no further details or reassurance.

Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions (DPP) and shadow Brexit secretary, called for mandatory funding.

Source: Keir Starmer: make funding for women’s refuges mandatory | Politics | The Guardian

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