The First Minister will be aware that North Lanarkshire Council recently took a decision that, in effect, defunds three women’s aid services across the council area, including Monklands Women’s Aid, which covers my constituency. Due to Scottish Government funding, some services, including the refuge provision, will continue, but there are concerns that many women and children will be left without a vital service and that local jobs will be on the line. The decision has been broadly condemned by national organisations and by MSPs and MPs from across the area and across the political parties.
I understand it is a decision for councillors, but could the First Minister take the opportunity to outline the support that the Scottish Government has made available for domestic abuse services, including women’s aid services, and will she commit to looking into the current situation affecting women’s aid services in Lanarkshire and consider whether any further support is available to mitigate the implications of the council’s decision?
I am aware of the situation in North Lanarkshire. Although the decision is a matter for the local authority, it is deeply disappointing.
Fulton MacGregor is right that we provide funding to Monklands Women’s Aid of around £174,000 annually and funding to Motherwell & District Women’s Aid of around £111,000 annually. Other funds are open to application, such as the new £13 million delivering equally safe fund to support violence against women and girls services and projects across the country.
Women’s access to front-line services that deal with violence and domestic abuse is vital, which is why we have committed to review how national and local specialist services for women and children experiencing gender-based violence are commissioned and funded and how we can ensure quality and sustainability, and that work will commence shortly with an initial twin focus on domestic abuse and sexual violence services.