Crime: Sexual Violence

House of Lords written statement – made at on 28 April 2009.

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Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office)

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Government Equalities Office (Maria Eagle) has made the following Statement.

On 19 March the Minister for Women & Equality, Harriet Harman, announced a £1.6 million cross-government special fund for Rape Crisis Centres (members of Rape Crisis England & Wales) and the Survivors' Trust sexual violence charities in England and Wales.

These charities provide invaluable support and specialist services, such as counselling and advocacy, to women and men who have been raped or experienced sexual violence.

The fund will open for applications for support from eligible organisations on 28 April, with a deadline of 5 June. It is anticipated that grants will be made to successful organisations in July this year. The purpose of the special fund is to ensure the continuation of voluntary sector services to victims of rape and sexual abuse. Details of how to apply and the eligibility criteria will be available on my department's website (www.equalities.gov.uk). This special fund is a cross-Government initiative involving the Government Equalities Office, Department of Health, and Home Office.

Last year's special fund ensured that 20 rape crisis centres (members of Rape Crisis England & Wales) did not have to close or reduce services to victims of rape and sexual abuse. Since the announcement of last year's fund, the Survivors' Trust has provided information that its members' services and groups were at risk of closure. That is why the terms of this new fund have been expanded to ensure that members of both Rape Crisis (England & Wales) and the Survivors' Trust can apply.

Nevertheless, the Government recognises the ongoing problems experienced by the sexual violence sector, particularly in respect of accessing local funding. Officials across government are working to consider what more we can do, based on the recommendations made by the Home Office's Stakeholder Advisory Group on Sexual Violence and Abuse Funding Sub-group. Government Equalities Office is working with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) in local government to improve the way local commissioning of services from the violence against women third sector works. This will include piloting workshops in three regions in the summer. These workshops will bring together violence against women organisations with commissioners from bodies such as local government and PCTs.