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Friday, March 09, 2018

No guarantee given on women's hostels

Fears about changes to the way that women's hostels are funded have not been allayed by the Prime Minister's refusal to guarantee their future during an interview for International Women's Day.

As the Independent reports, Theresa May has failed to rule out the closure of some women's refuges despite warnings from campaigners that her planned funding shakeup could threaten the future of shelters for women fleeing violent partners:

Domestic violence campaigners claim around a third of refuges could close if the plans go ahead, which would take short-term supported housing outside of the welfare system and hand funds to local councils.

It comes as the Government unveiled the Domestic Abuse Bill which contains plans for domestic abusers to be electronically tagged and banned from drinking alcohol.

Women's Aid said the bill was a “unique opportunity” to make a difference to survivors’ lives, but warned that it risked being undermined unless a “long-term, sustainable” funding plan for refuges is put in place.

I blogged on this in November the government plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. It would mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit, the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges. On average, housing benefit makes up 53% of refuge funding.

Instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, the government proposes handing a “ring-fenced” grant to councils for short-term supported housing. However, this does not exclusively cover refuges, it is also aimed at older people, homeless people, offenders, people with mental illnesses and drug addicts.

There are some real fears about how these changes will affect the funding of refuges.that need to be allayed. It does not help when the Prime Minister will not give assurances on their future.
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