Gov. should abandon removing refuges from the welfare system
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This petition acts to draw attention to significant concerns about the Government’s plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. We feel this proposal will further endanger the safety and lives of women and children seeking to escape domestic abuse.
Currently, Housing Benefit makes up around 50% of the revenue refuges rely on. If Housing Benefit entitlement is removed for those in refuges, it will mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit - the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges.
In October 2017, a document was published by the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Funding Supporting Housing’. Proposals contained in this document state that instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, a ‘ring-fenced’ grant to councils for short-term supported housing would be given.
However, the majority of women (77.6% in 2015) in refuges come from outside the authority, having left their original home in order to escape the perpetrator. If these reforms proceed, we are concerned that this will result in a postcode lottery of domestic abuse support services, with further refuge closures who provide such an invaluable service, and more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving support they offer when escaping domestic abuse and violence. It takes incredible courage for a person to leave an abusive relationship. Two women continue to be killed by a partner or ex-partner every week in the UK. Research by Women’s Aid found 94 women with 90 children were turned away from refuge services in just one day in 2016, meaning there is an absolute demand for this service.
We ask that the Government reconsiders and abandons its plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. This Government should be working to find a long-term and sustainable funding solution for refuges across the country, who provide an invaluable service for so many women and children in need.
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