2 in 5 women supported by Advance in the last year have experienced financial difficulties and poverty. The cost-of-living crisis has exacerbated stress and anxiety around managing money for many of the women we support, and we’ve seen increases in requests for foodbank vouchers and the number of clients arriving for appointments hungry. It is therefore vital that the Government delivers investment that supports women.
While news of an increase in central investment for crisis funding is welcome, we need long-term funding. We want to see a minimum annual allocation of £427 million to bolster community-based services and ensure that every woman and child can access the vital support they need, wherever and whenever they need it.
The Government has set out its priorities to get people back into work, but without further action to support women’s reintegration into the workforce, survivors are being set up to fail. We are concerned by the plans for ‘harsher sanctions’ for welfare recipients who are not deemed to be ‘engaging’ in the search for employment. We know that it can take years for women and girls to rebuild their lives after trauma. Any strategy that aims to get them back into work must be gender- and trauma-informed and must consider the specific challenges faced by women with experience of abuse or trauma, such as heightened safety needs, lack of access to specialist support and mental health services, and a shortage of affordable childcare spaces.
Women should not face economic exclusion due to a lack of support. Long-term community-based services are essential in providing spaces for women who need life-changing support and should be a focus of the Government’s Back to Work Plan.
Plans to improve public sector productivity could have a real benefit for women who are survivors of domestic abuse. Years of cuts to funding and resources across the police and criminal justice system have had a devastating impact on prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators. As violence against women and girls has been recognised as a strategic national threat, it is encouraging to see potential reallocation of resources to tackle domestic abuse. However, the Government and police must ensure that the removal of bureaucracy does not lead to missed opportunities to support survivors.
The Government must commit urgently needed funding to support all survivors of domestic abuse and implement a new statutory duty in the Victims and Prisoners Bill to fund vital community-based services.
Advance CEO Niki Scordi commented:
“We desperately need long-term investment in specialist support services for women and children to urgently tackle the problem of domestic abuse in our communities. It often takes years, not months, for women and girls to recover from trauma, particularly those affected by domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. Government investment in community-based, wraparound support should be at the heart of any ‘back to work’ plan and subsequent impact on the benefits system, so that women are not penalised and re-victimised.”
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- Advance’s vision is a world in which women and children lead safe, equal, violence-free lives so that they can flourish and actively contribute to society. The charity works with women who experience domestic abuse to be safe and take control of their lives, and women who have committed crime or are at risk of offending to break the cycle.
- Women must be referred to Advance, via statutory services or the charity’s self-referral scheme. For more information about who Advance is able to support, please visit Get Help.
- For facts and statistics about domestic abuse and women in the criminal justice system, as well as Advance’s work, please visit Our Impact.