Welsh Women’s Aid welcomes the UK Government decision to retain housing benefit for refuges and other supported housing, and calls for a parallel commitment to safeguard support funding for specialist services in Wales.
Today the UK Government has listened to our collective evidence that their proposals to change the way supported housing is funded would almost certainly have placed short-term emergency provision like refuges at risk of closure.
This announcement today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions means that the rent and eligible service charges for all supported housing, including refuges, will be kept within the housing benefit system, and outside of the Universal Credit system being rolled out nationally.
Welsh Women’s Aid welcomes this decision. It means that refuges and other supported housing for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse will still be available to help survivors access lifesaving and life-changing support across Wales.
Welsh Women’s Aid Chief Executive, Eleri Butler said:
“We are delighted that housing benefit will continue to fund places of safety for survivors and their children in refuges and other supported housing, so they can access the vital support and advocacy they need to recover from abuse.
This doesn’t resolve the very real problem of women who can’t access housing benefit, because they work or have ‘no recourse to public funds’. Being denied access to safety because you have insecure immigration status means many women face a stark choice of staying with the abuser or facing destitution.
This announcement also doesn’t change the risk services in Wales face of proposed cuts to Supporting People funding. We still need to make sure the support survivors and their children receive in refuges is funded, which is why we join Cymorth Cymru and others to demand Welsh Government ring-fence housing-related grants to ensure services can deliver the full range of support survivors in refuges need.
Specialist services for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse tell us they remain insecurely funded in many areas, and currently depend on a diversity of funders to fully meet the needs of survivors of abuse.
UK Government has listened, and now it’s time for Welsh Government to guarantee to sustainably fund violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence specialist services across Wales. We look forward to working with Welsh Government to achieving the national model of sustainable funding for specialist services in Wales, which our National Strategy makes a commitment to deliver”