Laura Sharman 05 September 2016

Housing benefit cap could force two-thirds of women's refuges to close

More than two-thirds of domestic abuse refuges could be forced to close unless they are exempt from the housing benefit cap, new research has warned today.

New statistics from Women’s Aid England and Welsh Women’s Aid show 67% of refuges in England and 69% in Wales could be closed down due to the Government’s welfare reforms.

The charities said plans to cap housing benefit in the supported housing sector at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates would place refugees in an ‘untenable’ financial position.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid England, said: ‘This latest crisis is just one crisis too many. We urge the government to make a public commitment to securing the future of refuges with a sustainable long-term funding solution.

‘With an average of two women a week being killed by a partner in England and Wales, this also makes economic sense: each domestic homicide costs society £1.8m, meaning that the loss of women’s lives due to domestic abuse costs the country over £14m a month. These women and children have been through enough, and they deserve better than services which are continually on the brink of closure.’

The charities say housing benefit covers up to 90% of rental costs and service charges at some refuges and the cap would see this money reduce from around £300 to £60 per room per week.

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