Sta­tus quo on hous­ing ben­e­fits bid

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

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

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