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Vera Baird QC welcomes hopes of a Government u-turn to exempt refuges from benefit cuts

8th September 2016

Vera Baird QC welcomes hopes of a Government u-turn to exempt refuges from benefit cuts

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, has welcomed news that the Government is ‘working on exempting refuges’ from the housing benefit cap, but says refuges need a long-term funding plan to prevent future uncertainty for such vital support services.

Earlier this week, Vera Baird called on the Government to end its delays and uncertainty around the funding of domestic abuse refuges, backing Women’s Aid’s campaign to make refuges, and other forms of supported accommodation exempt from Government plans to cap this benefit.

During yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May was pressed on the issue by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, following figures revealed earlier this week  that estimated 67% of specialist domestic abuse refuges in England will be forced to close as a result of the benefit reform.

Vera Baird said: “Theresa May has signalled a welcome u-turn which, we hope, will lead to the exemption of refuges from these benefit cuts which would lead to the closure of many refuges which take in women and their children who have been victims of domestic abuse.

“If we don’t see this exemption put into place, vulnerable women fleeing domestic abuse could see vital support removed  and the Government cannot allow for this to happen. Instead, we need a clear, long-term funding plan in place.

“We have a host of fantastic refuges here in Northumbria. All are doing a brilliant job providing a sanctuary for those who are living in threatening, abusive or violent relationships and we need to ensure this vital support is here to stay.

“Absolutely nobody suffering this abuse should be turned away from the services and support they need.

“I want to reassure victims that Northumbria Police and support agencies are on hand to help them take the first step to changing their lives and protecting their children from any further harm. Help is there and I urge anyone with any concerns to seek it – they will be listened to and helped to safety.

“Refuges are at the heart of the Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls strategy – it is nonsensical to think plans could essentially wipe many of them out. Domestic abuse is a very real problem and tackling it should be an absolute priority – government cuts and closures are certainly not the answer.”

For more information about domestic abuse visit For independent and confidential advice call 0800 066 5555. To contact Northumbria Police to report a crime call 101 or 999 in an emergency.