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14 September 2016

Benefit cap could shut 67% of women's refuges

Emma Irving, domestic and sexual violence advocate

The new Tory benefit cap could force two thirds of refuges to close, leaving women fleeing violence with nowhere to go.

A study by domestic violence charity Women's Aid showed that on an average day, 115 women and 103 children are turned away from refuges due to lack of spaces. This is only going to increase with the Tories' new rules for benefit claimants, which restrict the amount you can receive per household.

This is particularly devastating for refuges. They rely on housing benefit payments - which sometimes account for up to 90% of their income.

This government claims to want to end violence against women and girls. But it has repeatedly chosen to devastate services with round after round of cuts.

The devastating effect of austerity on refuges is clearly shown when it comes to women with complex needs.

Survivors

I work for a small charity supporting disabled survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Recently four women have approached my service requesting help to find refuge space. Only two managed to find a space.

Furthermore, reports of domestic and sexual violence have increased by almost a tenth in the last year. This puts further strain on services which are already at breaking point due to repeated Tory and Blairite funding cuts.

Many services are barely surviving with staff increasingly laid off. My organisation just reduced its staff from four to three due to lack of funding.

The Socialist Party stands for full refuge provision, and fully funded support services for all victims of domestic and sexual violence. Reverse all cuts to benefits, jobs and services, to help prevent women staying trapped in abusive relationships. Socialist change can end the epidemic of violence against women and girls.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/23543




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