Domestic violence services will receive a £20 million in funding, Philip Hammond has announced.
Delivering his first Budget, the Chancellor said the Government would commit the funding to support the campaign against violence against women — which he highlighted brought its support for the campaign to more than £100 million.
After expressing his "delight" at making the announcement on International Women’s Day, Mr Hammond said: “I will commit a further £20 million of government funding to support the campaign against violence against women and girls, which takes the Government’s commitment to this campaign to over £100 million in this Parliament.
“This is on top of the Tampon Tax, which today delivers another £12 million in support of women’s charities across the United Kingdom.
Theresa May, who is working to oversee a new Domestic Violence and Abuse Act, said the issue was a “key priority” for government and of “personal importance”.
Announcing the funding to Mumsnet ahead of the budget, the Prime Minister also revealed a new £5 million fund to help mothers return to work after a long career break.
She told the parenting website: "Our work in government has the potential to completely transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse.
"More often than not, it is women who give up their careers to devote themselves to motherhood, only to find the route back into employment closed off, the doors shut to them."
Domestic violence charities have welcomed the announcement of increased funding for their services, highlighting that "something had to change" after it emerged that a third of domestic abuse services were running with no dedicated funding.
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, told The Independent: “Refuge welcomes the news, revealed by Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of this afternoon’s budget, that £20 million will be made available to address domestic violence and abuse.
“Theresa May has been a champion for victims of domestic violence for many years, first as Home Secretary and now as Prime Minister; on International Women’s Day, it is fantastic to see once again her commitment to tackling a horrendous crime that kills two women every single week.
“Over the last few years, specialist domestic violence services across the country have experienced severe funding cuts. In some local authority areas, refuges have been totally lost.
“Today’s announcement shows the Government is listening to what the women and children Refuge supports really need. Refuge hopes that the Government will develop a sustainable funding strategy for refuge provision. Only then will women and children be able to access the safety and support they deserve.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “The extra £20 million of funding announced today for services to support women and children who have lived through the fear and trauma of domestic violence and abuse is desperately needed – and warmly welcomed.
“It’s not a moment too soon, as Women’s Aid’s most recent national survey found that a third of domestic abuse services are running with no dedicated funding.
“The Prime Minister’s strong commitment to helping survivors of domestic abuse is a fitting message for International Women’s Day. With two women a week on average being killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales, something has to change.”
Last month, Theresa May announced that she would directly oversee work to develop a new law to tackle domestic violence, developed to end the current “unacceptable” situation which sees some areas of the country put more effort into the problem than others.
The Prime Minister said domestic violence and abuse is “life-shattering and absolutely abhorrent” and insisted the Government’s new approach would deliver a system that increased convictions and works for victims.
The Independent recently revealed that councils across London had reduced payouts for services helping women suffering abuse by an average of 38 per cent since 2010, amid a surge in rates of domestic violence revealed by Police figures.
More than 100,000 defendants were prosecuted for domestic abuse in 2015-16, with over 75,000 convicted – the highest volumes ever recorded – but there are concerns that not all victims feel prepared to come forward.
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