Domestic abuse services in England are struggling to provide vital services to women, due to a continued lack of adequate funding, according to the national charity Women’s Aid’s Domestic Abuse Report, published today.
Despite a sustained increase in spaces for women and children in refugees, the 4,344 bed spaces available in England still fall nearly a quarter (23.2%) short of the Council of Europe’s minimum recommendation.
It’s not only refugees struggling to keep doors open, but also counselling, resettlement advice and services for children. Just over a third of the domestic abuse services Women’s Aid spoke to (36.3%) were able to provide a formal counselling service over the past year, a figure that has remained the same from 2021–2022. Mental health support is essential to domestic abuse survivors’ recovery.
More than 40% (44%) of services the charity surveyed were running without dedicated funding from local authorities. More than 80% of these services were using their financial reserves to cover essential costs, putting their financial stability and sustainability at risk.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Funding gaps for domestic abuse can cost lives. We want our local, life-saving member services to be able to provide support for women and their children without struggling to survive and make ends meet. If they are unable to provide the services needed, it could mean survivors returning to homes that are not safe. At a time when the cost of living is already a barrier for many survivors trying to leave, we urgently need the government’s support.
“We know how much funding is needed, so we just need the maths to add up here. The cost of domestic abuse to society is huge at an estimated £66 billion, so adequate, the sustained investment would also help to save money in the long term. At the same time, lives would be saved and survivors able to rebuild their lives and start again.”
Women’s Aid is calling on the government to commit to at least £409.3 million per year – a figure determined by the charity’s research – as a minimum for specialist domestic abuse services. The charity is also asking for ring-fenced funding for specialist services led by and for Black and minoritised women, Deaf and disabled women and LGBT+ survivors, which are even more chronically underfunded than most.