Government invests in domestic abuse services as demand outstrips supply

More than £10 million in new funding will be invested into the development and maintenance of domestic abuse charities and services across England, it has been announced.

The news comes ahead of the introduction of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, set to radically reform the way courts treat perpetrators of abuse and their victims and families.

According to the report, the emergency funding will support providers whose domestic abuse services have been in record demand throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

With victims trapped with their abusers throughout the lockdown, demand for emergency accommodation and advice hotlines has outstripped capacity. One recent study, led by the BBC’s Panorama programme, suggests that two-thirds of women in abusive relationships have suffered more violence from their partners throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

More than three-quarters, meanwhile, said the enforced lockdown had “made it harder for them to escape” the abuse. In total, over nine in 10 (91 per cent) respondents said the pandemic has “negatively impacted them in at least one way”.

Correspondingly, the charity Respect saw demand for its male victim advice line increase by 65 per cent.

Commenting on the new funding, Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “Our £10 million COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund is providing the support needed so that services can meet additional pressures during the pandemic.

“We will continue to engage with the sector to ensure victims and their children can access support including ensuring that councils provide safe accommodation for those that need it.”

The funding comes ahead of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament. The new legislation will establish a new statutory definition of domestic abuse, “emphasising that it can be more than just physical violence”, and prohibit perpetrators from cross-examining witnesses in family courts in England and Wales, among other changes.

Are you a victim of domestic abuse? For advice and support, please get in touch with our expert family and relationship team today.

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell.Solicitors in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.