Labour urge ministers to address sharp reduction in funding for women’s refuges

Labour has urged ministers to address “the funding crisis” faced by refuges after the Government pledged fresh action to help victims of domestic violence.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said two women were killed by a current or former partner every week, adding that refuge services have “sharply reduced”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said there were now more beds available while convictions and prosecutions were on the rise.

It comes after Ms Rudd outlined plans for domestic violence victims to be spared having to confront their alleged abusers in court.

“The fact that the Home Secretary has expressed concern about domestic violence is welcome,” Ms Abbott told MPs at Home Office questions.

“But we know that on average, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner, the end point of too much domestic violence.

“We also know that refuge services in England have sharply reduced over the last few years.

“ONS figures show they’ve gone from 294 services in 2010 to 2,074 in 2017.

“It’s all very well for the Home Secretary to talk about the role of charities. What is the Government going to do to address the funding crisis that refuges now face?”

The shadow home secretary appeared to misspeak on the Office for National Statistics figures, which show refuge services in England have reduced from 294 services in 2010 to 274 in 2017.

Ms Rudd said: “I would just point out to her that there are more beds available to women seeking them now than there were in 2010.

“As a Government, we will always make sure that there are sufficient beds that are needed by women, so that they are kept safe when they need them.

“And in terms of domestic abuse prosecutions and convictions, since 2010 prosecutions have risen by 26% and convictions by 33%.

“So it is good to see women are able to come forward. It is good to see that convictions are taking place.

“But it still remains a terrible crime and terrible violence, gender based violence, done to women, so I share her view about the need to do something.

“But rest assured, this Government is taking action and I hope that she will give her support to the Bill that we will be bringing forward.”

Writing in The Times, Ms Rudd said she wants to introduce special protections for victims, similar to those already in place for victims of other crimes, such as being able to give evidence behind a screen or via video link.

The Government will be launching a public consultation on the proposals as part of plans for a draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

“The purpose of the announcements I’ve made today is about making sure that victims have more confidence to come forward, more confidence about feeling safe, and we can be more certain of getting the convictions that they expect and that we all want,” Ms Rudd told the Commons.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Niall Carson / PA Wire.