Funding cuts by local authorities risk women's safety and support

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date: 2 August 2011

embargo: For immediate release

Local authorities are ignoring ministers' warnings that violence against women services should not be a soft target for funding cuts, says the TUC, End Violence Against Women Coalition and Women's Resource Centre in response to research published today (Tuesday) by False Economy.

The False Economy research - available at www.falseeconomy.org.uk - shows that numerous support services for women are having their funding cut or withdrawn in the current financial year.

These services - which are essential for women to access safety, justice and to rebuild their lives - include domestic violence projects, specialist support for ethnic minority women fleeing violence and counselling services for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Violence against women is far more widespread than is commonly thought: 60,000 women are raped each year, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime and it is estimated that 20,000 girls under 15 are at high risk of female genital mutilation in the UK each year.

Adequate provision of support after violence is one of the key objectives of the government's strategy to end violence against women and girls.

TUC Women's Officer Scarlet Harris said: 'The data uncovered by the False Economy website today presents an alarming picture.

'In spite of government assurances about the importance of violence against women services, many are being forced to close their doors or scale back their work due to funding cuts.

'Worryingly, we know that the cuts indentified today are just the tip of the iceberg as funding for many of these services is likely to be reduced further in the coming years.

'These are not 'nice to have' services, they are often quite literally a lifeline to vulnerable women and girls.'

Vivienne Hayes of Women's Resource Centre said: 'Women's organisations provide some of the most cost-effective services across the UK for women and families in need.

'They have also long been grievously underfunded, and seeing these figures shows all too starkly the terrible impact these cuts are having on such vital services.

'Local authorities should not adopt a 'slash and burn' policy when it comes to cutting women's organisations' funding, and should instead ensure that where possible financing is secured and the UK's most vulnerable and marginalised women are supported. This data shows that a more sensible, pragmatic approach towards making savings locally is essential.'

Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition Holly Dustin said: 'We already have very patchy provision of these essential services and by cutting funding to existing services, or withdrawing it altogether, councils are leaving women high and dry at a time when they most need support to escape violence and rebuild their lives.

'Violence against women support services are not a luxury that can only be afforded in good economic times, they are core services that all women should have access to no matter where they live. We are calling for local authorities to ringfence funding for specialist services as part of local violence against women strategies, as some are already doing.

'We also think it's critical that all local areas have specialist Commissioners who have expertise on these issues, and for there to be a national oversight mechanism to end patchy provision.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

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Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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