Recommendations include national ring-fenced funding for refuges, a new stalkers register, and an end to single household Universal Credit Payments. The report also recommends that Government widen the Bill to be a Violence against Women and Girls and Domestic Abuse Bill.
Changing Lives’ delivers a range of domestic abuse services across the country, helping women and girls break cycles of abuse for good. As the report rightly highlights, unpredictable and short-term funding streams have led to a serious lack of bed-space in safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse. We welcome the report’s recommendation that refuge provision should be a statutory obligation, backed by national ring-fenced funding. This is critical if the women and girls are able to get timely, specialist support to move on from abuse.
Alongside many other charities in the sector we urge the Government to reverse plans to create single household payments under Universal Credit. This move risks exacerbating the financial abuse and coercion that many of the women who use our services experience. Splitting payments will give women more of the financial autonomy they need to work towards leaving abusive relationships.
Changing Lives’ has consistently argued for a joined up strategy to drive forward key aspects of support for women and girls. The proposal to expand the new Commissioner’s role to cover both domestic abuse and violence against women and girls is crucial. This will put the gendered nature of domestic abuse, and sexual exploitation, grooming and violence at the heart of Government’s approach to addressing this issue. We urge Government to act on the Committee’s recommendations and deliver the strategic leadership needed to break cycles of abuse for good.