The winter funding is "much needed" but both Commissioners call on the government to provide longer-term funding to enable services to continue their "critical work" past March 2021.
On Sunday 15 November 2020, the government announced almost £11m in funding to support rape and domestic abuse services amid a rise in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Commissioners said this funding was “much needed” and it “will ensure help and support for thousands of victims for the next few months.” They said they were “pleased to see the government has listened to our calls for emergency funding to support domestic abuse victims and the services they rely on to stay safe during the latest lockdown.”
The Commissioners also called on the government to provide a “commitment to long term funding for these vital services” beyond the end of the financial year.
The government’s funding announcement followed a recent letter from the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, calling on the government to provide a second round of extroadinary COVID-19 funding to support domestic abuse services during the latest lockdown and longer-term.
The 3 November 2020 joint letter to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP, said £16.3m was needed to keep services running.
In the letter, the Commissioners wrote: “We understand that the Ministry of Justice has been gathering vital evidence during this time from the services that were funded through the initial funding round about the volume and nature of the work they are carrying out and the projected costs required to continue to provide this vital support over the winter months. Based on these costings, we are calling on the Ministry of Justice to provide a second round of extraordinary funding due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to support services through to the end of the financial year of £16,304,991.”
The Commissioners also used the letter to call on the government to “address the instability facing services by guaranteeing longer-term funding of at least a year from March 2021 until March 2022.”
On Sunday, the government announced £10.1m of new funding for rape and domestic abuse support centres and Police and Crime Commissioners to fund services in local areas. A further £683,000 will go to dozens of domestic abuse organisations that applied for extra funds, and an awareness campaign is being relaunched to flag where victims can seek support.
Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, and Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said:
“We are pleased to see the government has listened to our calls for emergency funding to support domestic abuse victims and the services they rely on to stay safe during the latest lockdown. We know how much pressure this second lockdown is putting on these services and staff. This funding is much needed and it will ensure help and support for thousands of victims for the next few months.
What is really needed from the government now is a commitment to long term funding for these vital services. Throughout the pandemic, frontline domestic abuse workers have been crucial in supporting survivors during a particularly difficult and dangerous time. All key workers deserve assurance that they will be able to continue their critical work beyond March 2021, and domestic abuse services are no different.”