Status quo on housing benefits bid
Women’s Aid have joined with other supported accommodation providers in lobbying the UK Government to maintain its current housing benefit policy.
The charity wants special provisions made for women fleeing domestic to ensure vulnerable families always have a safe haven to turn to.
Dr Marsha Scott, who heads up Women’s Aid in Scotland, has written to Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, to warn him of the impact the changes would have.
In the letter, she said: “This will have a devastating impact on the future provision of refuge accommodation in Scotland.
“As you are aware there are a range of additional costs involved in providing and managing refuge accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Without the existing level of housing benefit to cover costs, refuges will be forced to close. If women under the age of 35 are unable to access refuge accommodation or move into their own tenancy because of a restriction on their entitlement to housing benefit, this effectively prevents them from leaving an abusive partner.
“We understand that the proposal is to use discretionary housing payments to top up the gap between local housing allowance rates and the actual costs of providing supported accommodation.
“We believe that this form of‘discretionary’ funding for refuge provision is far too insecure and uncertain a funding mechanism to allow Women’s Aid to continue to provide refuge accommodation. It would mean local authorities deciding at an individual level whose support needs will be met – or not.”
Devastating impact in future