Government proposals to change the funding for supported housing could lead to 53 per cent of refuge services either closing or reducing their services, according to Women’s Aid.
As part of the government’s consultation on funding for supported housing, it proposes to end housing benefit for women living in refuges and instead give funding to local authorities to administer short-term supported housing services.
Women’s Aid - the infrastructure body for refuges - said this is inappropriate. It would lead to a one-size fits all approach for hostels for homeless people, housing for young people and people with substance misuse, as well as women fleeing abusive partners.
Women's Aid's estimates suggest that around 70 out of 180 refuges in England might have to close.
The government consultation on funding for supported housing closes on 23 January and Women’s Aid is urging members to send a respond and raise concerns and has created a template letter for people to use.
Women’s Aid said on its website that there would be a “catastrophic impact”. It surveyed 60 of its members and found nearly 40 per cent would completely close and 13 per cent would reduce the spaces available.
“We estimate that this would mean a loss of 588 spaces in total, and 4,000 more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving services they desperately need,” it said. "But as only one third of refuges in England responded to the survey, this loss of provision is likely to just be the tip of the iceberg.”
A petition on the campaign site 38 Degrees has been signed by almost 130,000 people.