QotD: “‘Every refuge will close’: what funding changes could mean for women”

Paragraph 68 on page 26 of a 54-page document drawn up by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions reveals plans to remove refuges and other short-term supported housing from the welfare system, meaning vulnerable women will not be able to pay for placements using housing benefit.

Housing benefit is the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges and makes up about 50% of their revenue.

Charlotte Kneer, a survivor of domestic abuse and chief executive of the Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid refuge in Surrey, said: “If this goes ahead, every single refuge will close and every woman who presents herself to a refuge is at risk of murder.”

On average, two women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales.

Kneer’s refuge can house up to 11 vulnerable women and 24 children at a time. It offers clean, furnished rooms with televisions and tea-making facilities, a communal living area and kitchen, and a large garden with playground equipment.

The women who stay there have access to counsellors and advice on mental health, housing, job hunting and navigating the benefits system. It needs about £300,000 a year to keep running and just over one-third of the refuge’s funding comes from housing benefit – a room for a week costs £211. There are two full-time support workers, a part-time children’s worker and a part-time play therapist-cum-service manager.

full article here

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