Charities say disaster has been averted for victims of domestic violence this week, after the government said those fleeing abusive partners would still be able to use housing benefit to pay for accommodation in women’s refuges.
But the sector is still facing crisis: since 2010, local authorities across England have cut their spending on refuges by almost a quarter. Film-maker Fran Robertson went to spend time in a busy refuge in Sunderland run by Wearside Women in Need.
Three refuges in the city are still open, but two are under threat of closure, as Fatima Manji reports. We speak to Labour MP Jess Phillips, who worked for Women’s Aid before being elected.
A government spokesman said: “We have recently said we will be providing nearly £19 million for refuges and other domestic abuse services to help provide more beds and other vital support. Altogether, this Government has committed £100 million to tackle violence against women and girls, up to 2020.”