Jane Dodds has added her voice to the calls for the UK Government to abandon its plans to remove the right of women seeking refuge from domestic abuse to claim Housing Benefit.
Currently, women living in women’s refuges or similar supported accommodation can claim housing benefit to help pay for the costs of their stay there. On average, 53% of the income received by refuges comes from Housing Benefit paid to residents and without that money most of them will close, exposing more women and their children to abuse.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
This policy was revealed in a little-noticed document released by the UK Government’s Department for Communities & Local Government and the Department for Work & Pensions. As such it will apply in Wales as well. A lot of women’s refuges across the UK have closed over recent years, due to funding cut backs, and if this change is implemented it will force the closure of many more. This would be a disaster.
It beggars belief that a Government that professes to want to support the rights of women and plans to bring in legislation to protect them from domestic abuse should even consider such a policy. We in Wales should be proud that we have already passed legislation to greatly improve the protection of women, and indeed men, from domestic abuse and violence, through the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Wales Act.
Instead of taking away a vital support mechanism for women and their children, placing them at increased risk of harm, the Prime Minister should be concentrating on enacting similar legislation in England.