Women’s Refuges

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 15th October 2015.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central 9:30 am, 15th October 2015

What steps she is taking to increase the number and accessibility of women’s refuges.

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

We are committed to making sure that no victim of domestic abuse is turned away from the support they need. In July the Chancellor announced an additional £3.2 million to increase specialist accommodation support for victims, including refuges, and to provide more help for victims to access that support.

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central

During my annual community consultation over the recent recess, lots of women constituents raised concerns about the future of refuges, recognising that local authority funding was being stretched to breaking point, particularly in big cities such as Sheffield. The Government’s recent £10 million cash injection is a sticking plaster that will only delay closures. Will the Minister use the forthcoming spending review to put in place a long-term funding solution for the national network of refuges?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

I reassure the hon. Gentleman that our goal is to ensure that no victim of domestic abuse is turned away from the support they need. We have recently carried out, along with the Home Office, a review of domestic abuse services, and its emerging conclusions will feed into the spending review and the updated Home Office strategy on tackling violence against women and girls. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware, all future funding will be dealt with in the forthcoming spending review.

20. [901575].

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing)

As my hon. Friend Paul Blomfield has just pointed out, funding for refuges is under great pressure. A recent report by Women’s Aid said:

“The current model for funding specialist domestic and sexual violence services is not fit for purpose. Many services are under huge financial pressure” and are being “forced to close” or to use reserves just to survive. What is the Minister going to do about that?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

As I have said, this is subject to the spending review, but Women’s Aid has warmly welcomed the funding recently announced by the Chancellor. It is important for local authorities to provide such services, and it is also important to note that these services are still being provided up and down the country. We should not talk them down, as Labour Members are doing, because the fact is that if we talk down services and people think they are not available, many women may not come forward and access the important services they need.