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Home » Why the £2 Million Domestic Abuse Flee Fund is Just Another Gimmick

Why the £2 Million Domestic Abuse Flee Fund is Just Another Gimmick


    You may have read recently about the government setting aside £2 million to be distributed as grants for domestic abuse victims to escape their situations (we’ve included the link below for you to read). While this may initially be seen as a positive shift, our director Lisa Hilder believes that there are still mountains to move. Read Lisa’s thoughts in the blog post below.


    While the dog whistle response to the government’s announcement of a £2 million ‘flee fund’ – essentially grants for victims of domestic abuse – should be one of applause, the fact of the matter is that this is just a gimmick that is barely a sticking plaster over the measures that are truly needed to make a real difference.

    There is no denying that the £2500 sounds like a great opportunity to facilitate an escape from often terrifying domestic situations. But a few quid for food and nappies is a million miles away from addressing the real problems – the biggest of which is the severe lack of housing.

    We Urgently Need an Increase in the Number of Women’s Refuge Places

    Consider this – there are nine animal sanctuary places in the UK for every one women’s refuge place. Distressed animals are better served in the UK than distressed women and children, despite the millions of pounds that have been invested in domestic abuse over the last few decades.

    For this reason, the latest £2 million announced by the government will not even scratch the surface of what is really needed to help these women.

    The National Domestic Abuse Helpline was contacted 171,490 times in the year ending March 2023. There are just under 4,400 refuge bed spaces in the UK – 22.2% below the minimum number of refuge bed spaces recommended by the Council of Europe.

    Where are all these women clutching their £2500 meant to go? £2 million will help a few hundred women at the very best. And then what?

    Even if they do manage to escape – where to? They are still faced with the serious housing shortage in the UK, and the intense competition to be rehoused. That £2500 is going to burn a hole in their pockets until they can actually find somewhere permanent to rent.

    Women’s Refuge Donations

    The numbers simply do not add up. What is needed is a real and systematic investment in transitional supported housing for women where they can recover, recalibrate and rebuild their lives. An increased and consistent stream of women’s refuge donations will make a far better use of any additional funding from the government.

    Scant thought also seems to have been given to the administration of the funds, and could prove to be a challenge when managing the expectations of women looking to use the funds to escape from a violent situation. Some charities may not even be legally able to distribute the grants to individuals – they will only then be able to do so via a third party agency, or simply not participate at all.

    It also risks increasing the burden on other housing charities, beyond women’s refuge emergency shelters. Prioritising the safety of women and children comes with its own set of problems. While giving these women the means to escape their situations is important, it will only increase the size of the bottleneck within the housing charity sector.

    Having been involved in helping women fleeing from domestic abuse for the last couple of decades, I sincerely wish I could applaud this latest endeavour – but I fear it is only kicking the real issues further down the road. We are approaching a general election. Is it a sweetener, a box ticking exercise? Or am I just being cynical?

    What we need is a more holistic approach to service delivery, from supporting the woman with the process of actually making the decision to leave, and then leaving via a proven safe and sustainable pathway through to re-establishing life for herself and her children in a safe environment. In many ways, the set-up we have in Hull is a blueprint of how it should be done nationwide. Preston Road Women’s Centre is a safe haven for many women who are yet to make that decision to leave. As they draw strength and move towards a proactive decision, they are gently nurtured and supported. We can offer them integrated services, from emergency accommodation, specialist domestic abuse support, legal advice and representation and then permanent rehousing.

    Our evolution and success over the last 25 years is testament to what can and needs to be achieved on a national scale – this latest flee fund can then be utilised effectively but without the context of integrated service delivery, it’s simply another gimmick which will create more problems than it solves.