More than £75m of funding to support the most vulnerable people during COVID-19 including survivors of domestic abuse and vulnerable children and families has been announced by the government.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced £76 million of funding for charities supporting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence, victims of modern slavery and vulnerable children and families.
The government has also amended rules whereby people fleeing domestic abuse and facing homelessness as a result will be automatically considered as priority by their council for housing in a bid to ensure more survivors of domestic abuse have access to a safe home – as calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline have soared during lockdown.
Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, said: “It is essential that the most vulnerable people in our communities continue to get the vital support they need during this pandemic.
“This multi-million-pound package is a boost for charities working on front line to provide often lifesaving support or services at this unprecedented time.
“This includes essential support for domestic abuse victims, living in fear in the place where they should feel most safe – their home,” he added.
The government explained that it recognises that front line charities have struggled to continue some of their work during the pandemic and there may be increased risks for people trapped in abusive or exploitative situations.
Therefore, it is right that vulnerable people get access to the help they need, which will include additional support for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence, and more safe spaces and accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children.
This funding will also help front line charities to be able to offer different ways of supporting those in need, including through virtual or telephone-based services, as well as providing direct support to families of disabled children through the provision of goods including household appliances and sensory toys.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Protecting the most vulnerable in our society is crucial in these difficult times. Whilst staying at home for a prolonged period of time is a challenge for us all, for some it poses a different kind of struggle, which takes place behind closed doors.
“For survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery, this funding will ensure they can continue to receive the support they desperately need to rebuild their lives, whether that’s safe accommodation or specialist counselling,” he added.
The funding update includes:
- £34.15 million will support work to safeguard vulnerable children including children with disabilities, those who are critically ill, care leavers and children in the early years. Funding will also allow charities to offer support services in new ways, using remote working and technology solutions, for example, to help tackle criminal threats and mitigate the risks to vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic.
- £28 million to help survivors of domestic abuse and their children by providing more safe spaces, accommodation and access to support services during the coronavirus outbreak.
- £10 million has been announced to support victims of sexual violence access advice and support, through the funding of technology to enable charities to offer services remotely. A further £3 million per annum until 2022 will also be invested in the recruitment of more Independent Sexual Violence Advisors across the country.
- £1.73 million will provide emergency support to modern slavery charities who have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. This funding will go towards individuals supported through the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract and will allow victims to stay in government-funded safe accommodation for the next three months, access financial assistance, access support services remotely, and ensure we can manage additional demand on the services during this period.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “My absolute priority is the safety and security of vulnerable children, and supporting them throughout this pandemic. As we take action to overcome this unprecedented situation, we all must work together to keep children safe.
“This financial commitment will help those on the frontline continue their vital work in communities across the country,” he added.
The funding is coming from the £750 million package of support for charities announced by the Chancellor last month, to ensure charities can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.
Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: “Refuge welcomes the government’s announcement today to pledge further funds to specialist organisations working to address domestic abuse. This funding will help support frontline services at a time when they are needed more than ever. Refuge has seen demand for its services increase significantly since the necessary lockdown measures were announced – Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline has seen demand rise by around 50%, indicating the sheer numbers of women who need support.
“Refuge is pleased also to hear the government announce that women escaping domestic abuse will be recognised as requiring priority housing. Refuge has long argued that the previous housing requirement to show an ‘additional vulnerability’ risked women having to make an unthinkable decision – to stay with an abusive partner or risk homelessness. We hope this announcement will come into effect quickly and we stand ready to work with the government to ensure swift implementation,” she added.