Funding boost for rape crisis welcomed but does not go far enough, say campaigners

Rape and sexual abuse support services across England and Wales have been given increased funding amid “unprecedented demand” from women for help.

The Government funding package – totalling £24 million over three years, and which includes a 10% cash increase – will see 79 rape support centres awarded grants, with facilities across the country.

Sarah Champion (pictured), chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sexual Violence and Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, said the three-year commitment offered stability for the cherished services.

But she added that the money did not go far enough.

It comes after a report by the APPG at the end of last year which said specific support services for victims could cease to exist completely due to a lack of funding and a surge in the number of people needing help.

The Labour MP for Rotherham said: “Any increase in funding for victims and survivors of sexual violence is most welcome.

“In spite of their best efforts, specialist sexual violence and abuse services are unable to meet the incredible surge in demand of recent years.

“Recorded rapes are up 15% and Rape Crisis has seen a 17% increase in women wanting a service. Whilst a 10% increase in the fund is encouraging, it just isn’t enough.

“I really welcome the introduction of three-year funding at it provides stability for the sector, who can now focus on delivering a quality service to survivors.”

Figures released in December last year showed that in 2017/18, Rape Crisis services were used by 78,461 people, an increase of 17% on the previous year.

At the end of 2017/18, there were 6,355 victims on Rape Crisis waiting lists, with the wait for counselling ranging from three to 14 months.

Many centres are said to have long waiting lists, offering little or no chance of women immediately receiving the counselling they urgently need.

Announcing the funding package on Friday, Victims Minister Edward Argar said: “Victims of rape and sexual violence show immense courage in coming forward – and they must have confidence that the right support will be there when it is needed.

“Today we are providing funding across more regions than ever, supporting more centres than ever, increasing the overall amount of funding and moving to a three-year funding cycle.

“We are determined to continue to improve access to these vital services for victims to help them rebuild their lives after these devastating crimes.”

The Ministry of Justice said letters would be sent to centres on Friday informing them of how much money they would receive.

Sarah Green, spokeswoman for the End Violence Against Women Coalition campaign group, said: “Today’s announcement of additional funding for life-saving rape crisis centres is welcome, but it is a long way from meeting the huge and increasing need for rape counselling and support in this country.

“What we need is a root-and-branch change in the way these services are funded so that they are sustainable and no survivor who needs help is ever turned away.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Ansell / PA Wire.