Women's Aid, the national domestic violence charity, has warned that domestic violence services are in a state of crisis across England today. The charity's Annual Survey reveals shocking gaps in funding and claims that if cuts to domestic violence services do not stop, an entire network of domestic violence providers in England is likely to collapse.
Earlier this year, 155 women and 103 children were turned away from the first refuge they approached. Half of the services asked were running without dedicated funding and, of those, 59% were using their reserves to fund services. A third of services who rely on Local Authority funding experienced budget cuts this year and nearly one in five of them did not know if they would be getting funds from the Local Authority in that financial year despite the fact that the survey was conducted three months into the financial year.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women's Aid said: ‘Specialist gender-specific domestic violence services are reaching a breaking point. Over 1.2 million women were estimated to have experienced domestic violence last year, and two women a week are killed by perpetrators. We cannot afford to lose the services we have spent 40 years building up; we cannot afford to lose the experience of those who work in the sector, and we cannot afford to lose the ties these services have to their communities.
‘The government has an opportunity to significantly reduce the number of women and children hurt and killed by violent partners by ensuring adequate funding for the sector. However, this opportunity must be taken in the immediate future. If it is not, the safety net for women experiencing domestic violence in England will fall through, leaving even more women and children to be harmed and killed by people they should be able to trust.'
The Women's Aid Annual Survey 2013 is here.