Domestic Abuse

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 12th June 2008.

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Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 12:00 pm, 12th June 2008

To ask the First Minister what steps the Scottish Government will take to support survivors of domestic abuse, in light of the single outcome agreements due to be signed at the end of June 2008. (S3F-895)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is committed to tackling violence against women and, within that, to tackling domestic abuse. We will continue to build on the excellent work that has been undertaken in Scotland to date.

As Margaret Curran well knows, we are currently discussing single outcome agreements for 2008-09 with all 32 councils. We aim to complete the process by 30 June. Subject to agreement with councils, all single outcome agreements will be made publicly available shortly thereafter.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

There is agreement across the chamber about tackling domestic abuse as a priority. I ask the First Minister specifically to address the issue of what priority will be given to local authority domestic abuse services under the concordat. I am sure that he will be aware of concerns that women's organisations are raising now. They are telling us about a squeezing of services, about posts under threat and about funding being cut and projects merged.

I draw the First Minister's attention in particular to what is happening in the Western Isles, where the local authority domestic abuse co-ordinator post has now been cut. That is a vital loss to the islands community. Women who are experiencing domestic abuse are not part of the concordat discussions, but I do not think that there is one member of the Parliament who does not think that that post in the Western Isles should be reinstated. I ask the First Minister to use his authority and intervene to give the Western Isles back the service that it needs.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

We will be discussing such issues with Western Isles Council, as we will with all councils in terms of the single outcome agreements. I do not think that it is possible to doubt the Scottish Government's commitment in this area. We have committed more than £44 million to this agenda for 2008 to 2011, which is an increase of 100 per cent on the £22 million that was allocated by the previous Administration over the previous three years. I do not doubt for a second Margaret Curran's commitment in this area, because I know that it is very substantial. I can only think that she was not able to convince her financial colleagues of the criticality of the position.

In our funding, we have committed support for the national offices of Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, the Scottish domestic abuse helpline and the national rape crisis helpline. We have continued with the children's services-women's aid fund and the rape crisis specific fund.

The Scottish Government supports 19 projects in Glasgow across the range of funding streams, which address a range of violence against women issues. That funding amounts to more than £4 million over the next three years.

On the single outcome agreements, I do not necessarily believe that we are totally at one with Glasgow City Council on every specific issue—as with our discussions on the single outcome agreement with Western Isles Council. It might be that, in Glasgow, the Wendy Alexander approach is taken to class sizes, as opposed to the Fiona Hyslop approach to class sizes. However, I would be astonished if, when the single outcome agreements come out, the issue of women's aid and violence against women is not a huge priority in the single outcome agreement for Glasgow.

As we discuss the matter with councils throughout Scotland, I think that, with the increase from the Scottish Government and with co-operation and parity of esteem with local government, we will arrive at a substantially better position for women who are under threat throughout the country.