The Commissioners welcome the emergency funding, "which will ensure help and support for thousands of victims for the next few months,” and urge the government to work quickly to provide clarity on longer-term funding.
Ministers today (18 November) announced £10.1m going towards rape and domestic abuse support centres and Police and Crime Commissioners PCC’s to fund services across England and Wales.
The Victims Commissioner and Domestic Abuse Commissioner had written a letter to Ministers on 3 November calling for an extra 16m to be granted to PCC’s to support services.
Ministers were also due to announce today the release of £7.17m, which was outlined in the March budget, for a range of innovative programmes aimed at helping perpetrators to change their behaviours.
In addition, Ministers today outlined £680k of funding to go directly towards up to 34 domestic abuse organisations that provide support services for victims, including front line services and virtual services.
“The second lockdown has now been in place since November 5th and we know how much pressure this is putting on domestic abuse victims as well as services that they rely on to stay safe and get support. This extra funding is much needed,” said Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner.
Data gathered by the organisation Counting Dead Women suggests that the number of domestic abuse killings increased during the first lockdown. The project found that in the first three weeks of lockdown (March 23rd to April 12th), there were 14 women killed by men. This is the highest rate for at least 11 years.
Ms Jacobs added: “We know that we also need to work with the Government now to secure longer-term funding for frontline domestic abuse services. At the moment most services have no guarantee of funding beyond March 2021, making it impossible to plan and deliver services in the difficult months ahead.”
Research carried out by Women’s Aid in 2019, estimated a total cost to the sector of £393m from different funding streams including Government to provide specialist community-based and refuge accommodation per year, of which government funding forms a portion.
Government statistics show that domestic abuse cost society £66bn in the year ending March 2018.
Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said: “I welcome this emergency funding, which will ensure help and support for thousands of victims for the next few months.”
“These charities struggle with funding at the best of times and it is somewhat disappointing that we still do not have any clarity about longer-term funding. This brings with it potential uncertainty for many frontline workers, who have been tirelessly working throughout the lockdown.”
“These are highly qualified, frontline professionals who work hard to make people safe. They are there for victims at their most vulnerable and help save lives,” added Dame Vera Baird.
Frontline workers and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA’s) help victims at high risk of harm from intimate partners, ex-partners or family members to secure their safety and the safety of their children.
Without funding certainty, there is a risk that charities will have to issue redundancy notices by Christmas and may risk losing experienced staff who are already supporting survivors to rebuild their lives.
“This is why a broader statutory duty on local authorities is so important; if the Domestic Abuse Bill required Local Authorities to properly fund all domestic abuse services not just refuges, we wouldn’t be facing this uncertainty,” said Nicole Jacobs.
Domestic abuse statistics for England and Wales for 2018 to March 2019 show an estimated 5.7% of adults (2.4 million) experienced domestic abuse. This figure is likely to be significantly higher this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note to Editors:
- A joint letter was sent on 3 November 2020 by both Commissioners to the Secretary of State for Justice calling for £16,304,991 in extraordinary funding.
- This said: “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 called 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.”
- Minister Chalk wrote a response to both Commissioners on 18 November.
- In the March budget, before lockdown, the Government had already announced that it would provide £10 million for innovative new approaches to preventing domestic abuse, working with Police and Crime Commissioners to expand projects like the “Drive” prevention programme which focus on tackling the behaviour of perpetrators.