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5 February 2020

Refuges turn away 64% of women - set no-cuts budgets now!

Jane Nellist, Coventry Socialist Party

One of the most thorough reports about support services for people seeking to escape domestic abuse, researched by Women's Aid and released om 28 January, confirmed that 64% of those who seek shelter in a refuge are turned away due to lack of funding.

The Council of Europe, a human rights organisation covering 47 European states, highlights that the number of refuge bed spaces in England is now 30% below the number recommended.

For an increasing number of women, it's even worse, where there is no access to refuge provision at all. Many domestic violence services are run on a shoestring by volunteers and funding gets tighter every year.

It's not just the lack of refuge spaces that is the problem, it's also the lack of affordable social housing. Only 37,825 new homes built in England were let at discounted rents last year, despite a waiting list of 1.1 million.

For many fleeing abusive relationships, their choices are bleak. Either return to homes and the perpetrator they're trying to leave, or face poor, unregulated, private rented accommodation - or even worse, homelessness.

More deaths

This is outrageous. And bluntly, what it means is that more women will die as a result of a violent partner, or face an earlier death due to living on the streets. I've been shocked talking to homeless women on the streets in Coventry as to how many of them talk about domestic violence as the reason they are forced into that situation.

There are two other factors highlighted in the Women's Aid report. Firstly, cuts to mental health services, for those with more complex needs, mean that women do not get the right support quickly enough. And secondly, the number of families who have "no recourse to public funds" because of their immigration status.

Universal Credit works against those fleeing a violent relationship. With long waits to get benefits paid, many are forced stay in refuges longer than they need to.

With the re-election of the Tories, the fight against cuts is even more vital. Labour councils must lead the fight for the resources our local communities need, instead of presiding over the rationing of an ever-reducing budget. We say, spend the reserves, demand the stolen millions back, and organise the fight!

And to build a society that guarantees the needs of all and faces up to the challenge of ending the fear of domestic violence, thoroughly and permanently, we must fight for socialism. The Socialist Party demands:

Read and sign the pledge not to cut domestic violence services at socialistparty.org.uk, 'Cuts to women's services cost lives'



http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30205