Every Women’s Refuge in the UK Could Close Due to Universal Credit

A toxic combination of Universal Credit and benefit caps could lead to every single women’s refuge is the UK closing their doors the charity Women’s Aid has warned.

Critics have also raised concerns that the new benefits system, which will see all benefit paid to just one member of a family, could leave people trapped in abusive relationships with no hope of escape.

Many homelessness hostels and night-shelters will also be affected by the benefit cap, although shockingly it will be those with children who are at greatest risk.

The benefit cap, set to be introduced in April 2013, will see benefits capped at £350 a week for a single claimant and £500 for a family of any size.  This cap includes support with rent payments, which make up the bulk of almost all benefit awards.  Already Housing Benefit caps are leading to soaring homelessness and the impact has barely even been felt.  The situation is set to become far worse when payments for temporary or emergency accommodation are also subject to the cap.

Women’s refuges and other types of emergency accommodation are forced to charge high rents (paid by Housing Benefit) to cover staffing costs.   Experienced staff are critical to the services they offer, for both resident security and ongoing vital support.

When the cap is introduced next year Women’s Aid warn that the loss of income will “decimate the refuge network”.  To make matters even worse, the move to a monthly payment system for Universal Credit –  along with ‘direct payments’ which means housing benefits will no longer be paid to landlords – may see some residents falling into arrears placing further pressure on services.

Homelessness hostels which support young people who have suffered abuse may also be forced to close.  With brutal cuts already made to Housing Benefits for those under 25, there may well be nowhere left to run but the streets for children who are abused in the family home.

Universal Credit will only be paid to a single family member as opposed to benefits being split between between couples as at present.  For those in abusive relationships this could prove devastating, allowing abusive partners  to trap people in a financial straitjacket from which there is little chance of escape.

Women’s Aid supported 180,000 adults and children last year.  This support could disappear completely when Iain Duncan Smith’s inept benefit changes are driven through.

Whilst hostel and refuge accommodation has improved over the years it could still best be described as basic.  Women fleeing domestic violence, or homeless teenagers escaping abuse, are a world away from the plasma screen collecting mythical claimants so often portrayed in the media.

It is a sad truth that already those who have suffered trauma or abuse and are unable to work are forced into poverty by paltry benefits.  The decimation of refuges and emergency accommodation services will now mean homelessness as well for those seeking to escape their situation.  That this savage scenario doesn’t even seem to have occurred to Iain Duncan Smith tells us everything we need to know about the posh boys in this Government’s attitude to women.

UPDATE:  Not quite a u-turn, more a bodge has been announced.  With no clear details however services for those fleeing domestic violence remain under a grave threat.

A briefing report on the impact of Welfare Reform produced by Women’s Aid can be downloaded at: http://www.womensaid.org.uk/core/core_picker/download.asp?id=3744 (PDF)

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66 responses to “Every Women’s Refuge in the UK Could Close Due to Universal Credit

  1. And all the men’s refuges too… Oops sorry, there aren’t any. I have all sympathy for women suffering abuse, but understand Women’s Aid is an extreme feminist organisation who ban 13/14/15 yo boys from their shelters if they are brought along by their mothers fleeing abuse. And Women’s Aid have opposed the opening of shelters for male victims of DV, because it would challenge their dogmatic stance that only women suffer DV. So like I say, ALL sympathy to ALL victims of DV, and the closure of shelters is bad news for women, but understand the upshot of any reforms mentioned in this context will reduce support to female victims of DV to the same level as received by men, ie virtually none. More needs to be done for men suffering abuse, and these “reforms” will not help them either.

    • I recommend you to read a wonderful book by Erin Pizzey “Scream quietly to neighbors will hear”, not very easy to come across to, but worth hunting for if you want to know how and why we have Women’s Aid.

    • WOW – and the very first comment is “What about teh menz”.

      Sigh. Women’s Aid was set up to support women and is focussed on supporting women. How about teh menz set up their own organisation rather than expecting women to look after them.

      • What about teh menz who are living in fear of their partners? What about teh menz who think they deserve the abuse they suffer? What about teh menz whos penises are sliced off, and all we as a society can do is laugh about it?

        Sigh. Women’s aid may do good work for women, but their dogmatic refusal to even acknowledge the fact men CAN and DO suffer abuse is part of the reason we as a society mock and denigrate men who are victims.

        And judging by the Experience of a WOMAN like Erin Pizzey, who was driven into exile by radical feminists for daring to open a shelter for abused men, one can imagine why even now some choose not to speak out. But you needn’t worry mhairi, there are a few men’s shelters. The only problem is they receive no public money AT ALL and are forced to survive on charitable donations. What about teh menz indeed.

        • But why dont teh menz set up *their own* organisation, rather than whining that women’s aid dont cover them. I’m not denying that men suffer domestic abuse and violence, but sorting that issue is not the aim of womens aid – which is to aid *women*

          It is not women’s job to look after men.

          • But there are some shelters for men – a very small number. And like I said, the men’s shelters have to rely on charity because Government will not give them funding, unlike women’s shelters, which do get funding, especially from local councils. And your mocking tone IS part of the problem – by using the old “what about teh menz” line it’s obvious you have the same contemptuous attitude to male victims as most people do. And I don’t necessarily think Women’s Aid should be helping men, but they do have a very dogmatic attitude to what domestic violence is, attitudes which feed through to wider society and reinforce the notion only women suffer DV. And look at the context in which this debate is taking place – the possible impact on women’s shelters resulting from government cuts, because there are no government-funded men’s shelters to be impacted by government cuts in the first place.

            But I agree with you on one point. It isn’t women’s job look after men. And it isn’t men’s job to look after women, either.

            • But the very. first. comment on this article is about how unfair it is for men. Male deaths from domestic violence are rare compared to female deaths, and most family annilators are straight men.

              Women are more widely and more badly affected by domestic violence. There is g;ment funding for male victims of dv and these are being cut.

              Anytime issues which predominently affect women are raised, there’s always someone straight in there with male victims, demanding why we dont talk about men.

              Because we dont want to – we want to talk about women, we dont get the chance to very often and its used as a silencing tactic to obscure the gendered nature of social structures.

              Set up “Mens Aid”, I’m quite happy for you to, but dont whinge about how orgs which are set up to support women dont prioritise men.

          • “Men’s Aid”?! – you can’t be serious, mhairi? Are you? Who would fund an organisation with the title? The council? “Men’s Aid” would be laughed out of the Town Hall by those fat, sexist Councillors in the same way that “teh menz” are laughed out of the cop-shop when they seek to report DV. Sigh, sigh, sigh!

            • And you think that women werent laughed at in the same way when they tried to set up Womens Aid?

              “Domestic violence and stray dogs…rubbish work for police officers” Kenneth Newman, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, 1984.

          • And how is domestic violence a gender issue anyway? And domestic violence isn’t an issue that “primarily affects women”. If you and others are going to make statements that amount to declarations that male victims should “shut up” then you’d better have stats to back up your assertions. And who is this “we” you refer to? “I” want to talk about men as well as women. And as I said before a male victim is in every bit as much need of help and support as a female victim. Domestic violence is not a “women’s issue” while 1 in 6 men suffer, neither is it a “women’s issue” for as long as men cotinue to suffer and even die in silence.

          • And to prove the point how harmful a “them and us” attitude can be here’s a sory of a rape victim being turned away from a men’s shelter. Not a nice thing to happen eh?

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2206599/Good-Samaritan-rescued-raped-girl-17-left-naked-battered-street-turned-away-Salvation-Army-hostel-told-help-men-here.html

            Victims are victims, regardless of sex.

            • WTF? A christian organisation refuses to help a woman and this is some kind of justification for why feminist organisations should spend their time and energy on men? Seriously?

          • WTF? Indeed. So what is the difference? A woman seeking help is turned away from a men’s shelter – a very uncommon occurence, simply because there are so few men’s shelters. A much more common scenario is men being turned away from women’s shelters, because there are many more women’s shelters. You see the problem? A lack of male-specific shelters is made worse by the systemic refusal of most women’s shelters to help men. And before you start, I am speaking for VICTIMS here, not your idealogy, or that of services that are supposed to HELP people. In a previous comment you said it’s not women’s job to help men; why should it be men’s job to help women? Or is your argument one of deserving and undeserving victims?

            • I didn’t realise the Salvation Army were a men’s only organisation.

              There are far more men’s homelessness units than there are womens – far far more.

          • Then why don’t the wimminz set up their own homeless shelters?

            Sarcasm over, there are few specifically men-only homeless shelters, although what homeless shelters have to do with shelters for battered men/women I don’t know, apart from the pointless gender demarcation I already mentioned. You see how victims are harmed mhairi, by gender segregation of services for victims of abuse? And the salvation army are not a men only organisation, but this was a men-only shelter run by them. I think, personally, they should have helped that poor woman, but hey if we’re going to play by your rules they were perfectly within their rights to turn her away, just as every women’s shelter does male DV victims. It can work both ways, but is never fair.

            • Ffs! Its obvious to most people why some refuges are women/men only, for safety reasons! It prevents the abuser from getting into the refuge. if I was a man escaping a violent female partner I’d feel a lot safer knowing I was in a male only environment temporarily, same goes for women only refuges. Its not rocket science. Where I live there’s a long standing men only homeless shelter, no women only one, and even the local refuge isn’t men only (families are allowed and single fathers). Enough with the arguing, if you want to help battered men get involved instead of bitching about it!

          • SJM – The Salvation Army hostel incident was not about a women being refused residency, but about them ignoring someone who had just been raped and was in need of an immediate safe space off the streets – it has very little to do with the issue under discussion. In less extreme circumstances however (ie not an emergency) then they would turn her away and rightly so, do you really think a hostel full of male ex-rough sleepers, many of whom might be street drinkers, is an appropriate place for a 17 year old women to live?

            That is why there is often gender based segregation, its not some big conspiracy, its to do with the practicalities and reality of supporting people who may have faced abuse and are homeless as a consequence.

      • WOW – Isn’t that what “society” is all about, mhairi, that we all pitch in and look after each other? Or are “teh menz” second-class citizens in your book? If so, by the same token, I sincerely hope that WOMEN’S Aid isn’t looking for any help or support whatsoever from “teh menz” – they will have enough to do fighting their own battles! Sigh.

        • You’re right there. And I find it ironic that the right will espouse the theory of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor, yet when it comes to Domestic Violence some on the left will espouse the theory of “deserving” and “undeserving” victims. Nice to see bigotry isn’t a monopoly held by the right.

      • Having had a flick through your blog, mhairi, it is obvious where you are coming from and your general attitude towards “teh menz”. Going to leave it at that. SU

  2. I hate Tory tossers

    Whilst the amount of men suffering DV abuse is relatively small compared to women, men are more able to look after themselves if made homeless or kicked out of the home. How many homeless women do you see on the streets compared to men? I agree that no-one should be homeless, but least of all women or children. Whether Womens Aid is extreme feminist or not – who else is there to pick up the pieces for battered women? Its not IDS and his fascist Government is it!
    I’m a man and agree that this, yet another assault on the most vulnerable, in this case battered women, is despicable and another damning consequence of IDS’s evil warped and twisted mind.
    There is only one way to stop this now, and its mass civil disobedience and rioting, this is the only language that corrupt Governments understand. If they want London for the filthy rich, then the poor should riot, trash and burn London – if the poor cant live in London any more, then neither should the rich.
    I think people are finally beginning to realise the terrible trouble this country is facing. If there is an uprising then the rich WILL be affected, when their mansions and porsches get torched and trashed by the desperate poor – those whose lives have been devastated by the Universal Credit and IDS’s savage sanction regime.
    The perfect storm is brewing – when it breaks, all hell will break loose!

    • ffs, men are men, not supermen, they die of cold and starvation just as easily as women, no difference whatsoever.

      • I know I bit, but can we avoid this turning into a what about men discussion please

        • Why not? Shouldn’t it be as much about men as women. And as far as the figures are concerned, IHTT, the numbers are not “small”, at least 30 men a year die because of DV per year, and 1 in 6 men will suffer at the hands of a partner, according to the government’s own figures. And plenty of independent, un-biased studies (where they ask the same questions of both sexes, rather than only asking women currently in shelters) demonstrate an equality in numbers of male and female victims. I take NOTHING from female victims, all I ask is something is given to male victims. For once. And for the record, I still think this is going to be a disaster for battered women, and that is wrong wrong wrong.

  3. There are refuges for men fleeing domestic abuse, not as many and not run by Women’s Aid – but then that’s because the numbers don’t stack up equally – same as there are far more bed spaces for men in conventional homelessness shelters because there are more male rough sleepers – these things tend to be done on the basis of need not ideology

    womens aid are hardly an extremist feminist organisation, which is a shame because we could do with more of them

    • “The numbers don’t stack up equally”. Right. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be a victim of DV. In the UK there are more than 7000 shelter spaces for women fleeing abuse. There are less than 100 for men. They don’t stack up equally do they?

      • We have no way of knowing whether your figures are correct because you don’t provide a source.

        However, there are far more male only homeless hostels and always have been, there used to be very little provision for women, although that has changed and been mitigated by the refuge network.

        As mhairi has said, if there is a genuine need for more provision then there is nothing to stop them being set up, funding could come from Housing Benefit (although as the piece points out that set to change), along with what used to be called Supporting People funding and the type of mainstream fundraising that Womens Aid do. Most men are absorbed by the mainstream homeless hostels, some of which are very high support.

        Perhaps there is a need for more specialist service, there is certainly a need for more and better homeless hostel accomodation for everyone, but you would be better targeting your anger at organisations like St Mungos or Centrepoint than Womens Aid if there really is a genuine shortage and need for specialist provision for male victims of abuse

        • I don’t think homeless shelters are ever overtly “men only”, and there are women-only homeless services. What makes the case in the Daily Mail so shocking is because it is so rare for a woman to be turned away – it’s usually men in that position. But the majority of homeless are men, so to be brutally honest it stands to reason there’ll be more provision for men who are homeless. As for a source for my figures re shelter spaces:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_shelter

          Check the section “male victims” in the linked article. Perhaps the situation has improved since the article was sourced, but I don’t think much has changed.

  4. I hate Tory tossers

    I expect that call me Dave will say that the Big Society should step in to help the victims of DV, when the refuges paid for by HB close. I watched the mini series homeless in Swansea, and it was down to charities and organisations like the Cyrenians to pick up the pieces and try to help out the homeless. Even then, there were not enough beds to go round. I can imagine the terrible suffering that UC is going to cause when homelessness rockets in these cities as a result of its mean and callous sanctions. This Govt cannot expect charities to be able to cope. Its one thing to open a food bank or soup kitchen, but something totally different to provide staffed sleeping accomodation for the ever rising numbers of homeless.
    I really do dread to think what will happen to homeless women next year – how can people just stand by and condone what IDS is doing to the most vulnerable members of society – yes, members of society, not scum.

  5. My local hostel doubles as a refuge. Its saved me and my oldest child twice. While as a survivor I realise the plight of male victims, there places they can go rather than the street, at least where I live. There was a male victim in the refuge last time I was there, with his daughter. Many areas treat male and female victims as equals. Womens aid have helped direct me to services for men in the past. My local dv support service has also done the same and run perpetrator programmes. It saddens me that men slate services that save lives of women and children. Destroying those services will not create more services for men! Refuge and womens aid are already having to turn victims away! I’ve lived the nightmare of begging for a place to sleep with my young child, in a police station, because going home meant mental and physical abuse. I thought we would have to sleep rough, that was better in my mind than going back to someone who may one day kill us. IDS believes that single mothers (not fathers) are disgusting. This side effect of his ‘reforms’ will please him greatly I’m sure. Not content with making them pay to collect maintenance he now wants victims of domestic abuse to stay put or sleep rough. I expected nothing less from the Tories.

  6. Pingback: Every Women’s Refuge in the UK Could Close Due to Universal Credit | The Sealand Gazette | Scoop.it

  7. I hate Tory tossers

    The universal credit is likely to be the cause in itself of more incidents of DV, as families come under greater and greater stress and strain to make ends meet, or even put food on the table. Stress leads to depression and anger, and many people are not able to cope with stress easily leading to lashing out, quarrelling, and ultimately, violence.
    The old fashioned values in this country state that a man should never hit a woman, its cowardly and morally wrong, but desperation and anger tend to make morals go out the window, and its all to easy for those affected to lash out at the closest to them.
    The UC is likely to cause family breakdown to become rife in this country, with support services cut to the bone, and children left to run riot or to have to steal from shops to eat. What a hell of a mess. And still the middle classes are baying for more cuts to benefits and harsher sanctions for those who “dare to be unemployed”.
    Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do if facing homelessness would be to go and beat up a copper and get a prison sentence. As horrible as prison is, at least its a roof over your head and meals to eat – some people may disagree saying that freedom is better than imprisonment, but freedom at what cost? freezing to death under a railway bridge in the middle of winter.
    Also, going to prison will cost the state a hell of a lot more than the money they saved by sanctioning a person’s benefits. If everyone that was made homeless, or had their benefits stopped went on crime sprees, how would the prisons cope? It wouldnt be long before Gideon was working out the true cost to the taxpayer of stopping benefits.

    • There’s money to be made from prisoners or hadn’t you heard? Not only can companies make profit out of incarceration, it’s a boom business (check out the US). Plus, prisoners can work in call centres for even less than the pittance that is workfare. Great result all round for UK PLC don’t you think?

      • I hate Tory tossers

        They cant make prisoners do what they dont want to do, including work. What are they going to do if you refuse to participate in their schemes, give you time in solitary? A good hiding from the screws?
        Call centres? what are they going to do – ship prisoners to India, after all, this crap country has outsourced most of them over there.
        Is this the new name for Prison – the Workhouse?
        Oh yes, I forgot, they put Chris Gayling in charge of Prisons and justice. Things just keep on getting better and better. You either do workfare on the outside, or get sanctioned, then lose benefits, then become homeless, then steal to survive, then get arrested and jailed, then guess what – good old workfare again! Unbeleivable.

    • “And still the middle classes are baying for more cuts to benefits and harsher sanctions for those who “dare to be unemployed”.”

      It’s not any more the middle classes than the low paid working classes who have been brainwashed to turn on their own in a cunning divide and rule strategy which only benefits the super-rich bastards

    • “Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do if facing homelessness would be to go and beat up a copper and get a prison sentence.”

      Beating up IDS or starting a riot, would be a lot more effective and a lot more satisfying.

    • The middle classes baying for more cuts in benefits? You think we aren’t suffering too? You think only working class people have lost jobs or taken pay cuts or run into business woes due to the recession? Rubbish. Place the blame at the door of those responsible- David Cameron and his rich, exploitative cronies.

  8. SJM – it’s not a competition.

    • No it isn’t. Which is why whenever somebody even mentions the lack of support for male victims of DV some people immediately throw around accusations that we are either trying to downplay the seriousness of violence against women, or we are trying to take resources away from women. And that is what I do not want to happen – these cuts are evil and will make many women’s lives even more difficult than they already are.

      We need to give women more support – absolutely – but how about giving men some too?

  9. As with disabilities, everyone should be aware that they’re not far from being unemployed themselves. So all these people who despise the unemployed for not having a job should take a step back and think about how they would cope if they lost their job/ family income, And then have a bit of compassion and not assume that everyone on benefits either wants to be there or wants to stay there – in most cases, this is not true.

  10. Red magazine might be interested in doing an article on how these Tory bastards plans are going to affect these refuges as they have had this petition up on their site for six or seven months now and the editor of the magazine lost a close friend because of DV.

    http://www.redonline.co.uk/savealife

  11. In Da Shit has ALREADY rubbished this ‘news’ weeks ago…..just like rubbishes ALL concerns and criticism of his ‘reforms’ in his sneering arrogant psychopathic manner. He intends to ram this destruction of the benefots system through, over as any dead bodies as he can pile up.
    The man is a Nazi.
    Wake the fuck up.
    Before you die on the altar of this cunt’s narcissism.

    • I hate Tory tossers

      Dont forget Lord Freud, he is just as guilty as IDS in this vile welfare reform – he stood up in the Lords and fed them a load of lies about how the UC would be good for all and help them out of poverty. Grandson of the Physoanalyst Sigmund Freud, Lord Freud is a Fraud and just as evil and twisted as IDS and Cameron.
      If IDS is targeted for savage treatment – Freud should be as well – he’s a slimy odious old toad, with a BA in Hatred.

  12. far from keeping families together this will encourage families to split up. Simple mathematics two single people are capable of getting £200 more than a couple so loving partners will move apart to secure extra money if they can’t survive on on the £500 limit.

  13. A refuge saved my sister and her two children, gave her the space to begin to recover and work out how to start again. This cannot become an argument about the lack of men’s refuges versus women’s – we must protect what is still in existence first. The Tories love the ‘divide and rule’ tactic and it is playing out here…stand together, put differences to one side- this affects ALL of us.

  14. Pingback: Iain Duncan Smith Fudges On Women’s Refuge Closures | the void

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  16. utter disgrace will be more suiced attempts, more children abused so on. torrie tossers indeed

  17. Pingback: Birmingham Charities Warn Of Rise In Homelessness Following Welfare Cuts | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  18. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Here’s another terrifying consequence of Coalition welfare policy that we haven’t been told up-front.

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  23. i was in a life of crime and involved in gangsters, i had a drink problem and drugs problem, in court out of court, who was it that helped me ???
    my probation officer, also the police who once were my enimies, but actuall saved my life put me on the right road, now im happy new life good job.

    why r there adverts on tv, help the african children , help the animals, yes its sad, but hold on we r uk citizens let help each other, ban those adverts and pay 3 pounds every call to female refuge “s who agree with me ????

  24. what i mean is let put adverts on t.v for our women refuge, help our drug addics, street girls, alcholics, people with deppresion, all theses adverts on t.v could help the agencies trying to help u do u agree>>>>

  25. Pingback: 2012: A Year of Lies and Blunders at the DWP Part 2 | the void

  26. Closing hostels and refuges? Paying money to heads of households only? This is the Religious Right at play here. All that effort they’ve put into sponsoring spads and who knows what else on the quiet is really paying off now. Women back in their place in no time!

  27. I published a dissertation on the subtle abuses of staff to residents at women’s aid refuges. Perhaps now the government will step in and sort this societal problem and provide stricter regulations over care and support during the very difficult times of these vulnerable and marginilized members of society. A number of women I interviewed said their time with staff in these refuges led them to never consider entering one again. This is potentially catastrophic. Charities are opaque by nature, lets go with this and see better regulated procedure. Possibly even with a think tank on board to define how to best structure these valuable institutions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions…

  28. I was terribly abused within annagh house women’s aid refuge.
    My experience was a terrifying one, two staff bullied me and humiliated me io front of women when i had to stand up against their regime of terror against disabled, mentally ill and transgendered women.
    They were being inspected for their bad rep by the people who mainly fund them.
    They used al women to lie.
    Im in therapy to try to get over annagh house!
    Id have been ‘safer’ being abused by my ex partnes at home, i wouldnt have been sent to sexual abuse at a non safe hostel for severe alchoholics and drug user’s when i am not myself one of those people, i was a women who needed help, and had just been maraked

  29. I’m a disabled women, i suffered badly at the nasty hands of a craigavon run womens aid who were being investigated, they got disassociated from the aid! And i found out, i was shipped to mens hostel where i was assaulted sexually. An inconvienient truth perhaps! But those workers were a frightening pack of vulpine’d degenerates!

  30. Pingback: Hostels and Women’s Refuges Still Under Threat As Lord Fraud Dithers | the void

  31. Pingback: Still under threat … | The Blog of Knitted Fog

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