Northamptonshire refuges could shut if Whitehall changes benefits plan
Two organisations that provide secure housing for women and children affected by domestic abuse in Northamptonshire could see their refuges shut if the Government stops their housing benefits.
In response to a Whitehall consultation on short term supported housing, Eve and Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service (NDAS) are calling for the Government to reconsider it’s “Funding Supported Housing” policy.The plans propose that victims in refuges will have their housing benefits stopped and the money will be handed to county councillors instead, in one pool.If the Government gives this policy the green light the two services could see the closure of all of their refuges in Northamptonshire, leaving 75 women and 150 children without a roof over their heads. As it stands, about 30 per cent of funding for both organisations comes from housing benefit, while the rest of the funds are made up by trust and charity grants, direct donations and county council cash. The two services, which have been working in the county since 1976, between them provide short term supported housing for 36 people in six refuges - with a male refuge set to open in February under NDAS.The proposals also affect bail hostels, ex-offenders and ex-veterans.The organisations also provide one-to-one work with victims, survivors, perpetrators and children.
In papers submitted to the DCLG, Eve and NDAS said: "We believe that people should feel safe in their own homes, and that means being safe from abuse or violence by other members of the household. Combating domestic abuse has been important for Government policy for over two decades, and is also central to many of our local policies and strategies.
"Refuges are core to tackling domestic abuse: they are much more then providing a safe roof over people's heads.
"Our specialist services, provided by staff who have huge expertise and commitment and enable people to build up their confidence and escape from the cycle of abuse in order to move on with their lives. However, both staff and service users need security and this requires assurances about future funding."