No woman was ever turned away from refuge
What do we know?
Last year over 60% of referrals to refuges were turned away across the capital; equivalent to around 2,000 women in a single year, many with children. As cases of domestic abuse rose by 63% from 2011 to 2018 in London - this is a state of emergency.
The economic cost to London of domestic abuse is approximately £8.4 billion a year taking into account physical and mental health services, preventative action, and emergency services.
There has been an average reduction of 32% to council funding for refuges across London boroughs between 2010 and 2018. Only around a quarter of refuges are specialist BAME services, despite BAME women making up around 46% of referrals. Not one refuge in London is fully wheelchair accessible.
Why are women's refuges so important?
Specialist refuge services don’t just offer a bed. They help women and their children to rebuild their lives, offering counselling, advocacy, legal advice, employment and skills advice and moving on support. Many specialist services also support survivors and children impacted by sexual violence, forced marriage, FGM, sexual exploitation, trafficking and modern slavery.
How does the GLA fit in?
If the government passes its Domestic Abuse Bill, it should carry with it a new statutory duty for the GLA to provide accommodation to survivors of domestic abuse from April 2021. This will require cooperation from London boroughs, and demand the Mayor take leadership.
Sharing your votes with the Women's Equality Party on 7th May is a real opportunity to take the London strategy for ending violence against women to the next level, and to ensure that no woman is turned away from a refuge.
How will the Women's Equality Party tackle this?
WE will lobby the government to bring in the legislation, and ensure the new duty comes with adequate ring-fenced funding so that boroughs are not forced to divert resources from other needs to fulfil it.
WE will work with the new national commissioner for domestic abuse and with local commissioners, to map the needs and services across London, and fund the gaps.
WE will expand the raw number of refuge places by 450 creating 40 new refuges. This will be funded through the Affordable Homes programme to be completed by 2022.
WE will work with London councils to increase the provision for women with no recourse to public funds, who are particularly vulnerable to abuse but have no access to benefits.
Safety should not be a luxury. Safety should be a right.
You can make this happen.