Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the 2021 Budget includes £19m extra to address domestic abuse in England and Wales.
The decision was made after figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed and increase of domestic violence cases during the pandemic.
credit: The Independent.
In the period from January to June 2020, cases of domestic violence raised hitting the highest percentage in May 2020.
The police reported that during this period, arrests for domestic abuse incidents increased by 24% compared to 2019.
London´s Metropolitan Police received a higher number of calls related to domestic abuse as lockdown took place. The calls were mainly from third parties, as people spent more time at home it was easier to notice the abuse.
The chancellor announced that the £19m funding will be targeted towards ‘reducing the risk of reoffending and to pilot a network of ‘Respite rooms’ to support homeless women’.
In response to the announcement, many domestic violence organisations have claimed that they need a higher budget.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive at the national domestic violence charity Women´s Aid said: “The £19m announced in the budget today is not enough. Even with the £165m for next year, these figures are nowhere near the £393m needed to keep refuges and community based services running sustainably”.
She ended the report by urging the government to “provide further details of this funding, as it´s unclear what ‘respite rooms’ are”.
UK domestic violence charities saw an increase in contacts
Women´s Aid is among the charities that saw a drastic change in the number of calls, texts and emails received during the pandemic.
Their Live Fear Free helpline experienced a 18% decrease in calls in the period from April to June 2020, but the numbers went up as lockdown measures were eased.
However, there was an increase of 66% in emails and 780% in texts, which reflects that the difficulty to get help led victims to use non-verbal forms of communication with the helpline.
The ManKind initiative – a confidential helpline for men in the UK – reported an increase of calls in April, June and August.
The calls raised specially in the month of June, following the easing of lockdown measures on May 13th 2020.
Moreover, the national domestic abuse charity Refuge, reported a 65% increase in calls and contacts after lockdown started, and a 700% increase in visits to their website.
Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge said: “This is an enormous increase which underscores what we already know – domestic abuse is a scourge on society and must be addressed. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Domestic abuse is a crime and it must be addressed.”