A cross-party letter has been signed today (16 April) calling on the government to provide vital funding to ensure victims of domestic abuse have a safe place to live during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The letter, coordinated by Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack and addressed to the First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, has been signed by the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.
The letter has been signed in response to concern over the rise in domestic abuse since lockdown measures were implemented. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline, a 24-hour freephone support run by Refuge, has reported a rise of 25 per cent in calls since 31 March.
Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said on 18 March ahead of the letter: “1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse last year, and self-isolation has the potential to aggravate pre-existing abusive behaviours by perpetrators.
“While in lockdown or self-isolation, women and children are likely to be spending concentrated periods of time with perpetrators, potentially escalating the threat of domestic abuse and further restricting their freedom.”
It is feared that eight women have become victims of domestic killings since the lockdown began.
On 11 April, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced £2 million of funding for online services to support those affected by domestic abuse.
Whilst Women's Aid welcomed this funding, the organisation called for a cash injection of “more than £48 million to ensure domestic abuse services, who face increased costs from working remotely and tackling staff shortages, can cope with Covid-19.” This appeal came after demand for its National Live Chat rose by 42 per cent since the start of lockdown.
Deputy Leader of the Green Party Amelia Womack last month underlined the need to protect women’s rights during the coronavirus crisis calling for a “rapid gender analysis of this pandemic”, which has “made the gaps in our social security ever more clear.”
Commenting on the letter, Womack said: “The coronavirus crisis is extremely worrying for everybody, but the lockdown conditions are putting victims of domestic abuse at even more risk than usual.
“We know that there has been a spike in domestic abuse since the lockdown began and vital services are being overwhelmed by the surge in cases.
“The government has acknowledged there’s an issue but it now needs to immediately provide emergency funding to local authorities so they can offer safe housing for victims of domestic abuse, as women’s charities and organisations have already called for.”