Theresa May fails to guarantee women's refuges will not close amid funding overhaul - The Independent

Campaigners say four in 10 refuges could close if supported accommodation changes go ahead

Theresa May has failed to rule out the closure of some women’s refuges amid warnings from campaigners that a major funding shakeup could threaten the future of shelters for women fleeing violent partners.

In an interview on International Women’s Day, the Prime Minister was repeatedly pressed to guarantee the future of refuges after Government plans for an overhaul of supported housing funding that includes vital shelters.

Domestic violence campaigners claim around a third of refuges could close if the plans go ahead, which would take short term supported housing outside of the welfare system and hand funds to local councils.

It comes as the Government unveiled the Domestic Abuse Bill, which contains plans for domestic abusers to be electronically tagged and banned from drinki....

Women’s Aid said the bill was a “unique opportunity” to make a difference to survivors’ lives, but warned that it risked being undermined unless a “long-term, sustainable” funding plan for refuges is put in place.

Asked if she would guarantee no shelters would close, Ms May told ITV News: “Provision changes for a variety of reasons. What I’m saying is that what we want to do – we’ve already seen more beds available since 2010.

“We want to put refuges on a sustainable funding basis so that they can carry on providing the valuable support that they provide and I’ve visited a number of refuges over the years in different parts of the country.

“The ability they give women who’ve made that difficult decision for many to actually leave an abusive situation, the support they give is invaluable.

“But also we need to remember those women who don’t make that move to leave, who do stay in the home, and what support they need, and that there may be women watching this tonight who are sitting at home in an abusive relationship recognising that.

“I want them to feel able to have the confidence.”

Changes must be made to tackle the “postcode lottery” of care available for victims, as it is clear the current system does not work for all women, Ms May added.

She insisted that tackling domestic abuse had been a longstanding ”personal priority”, and the new proposals had taken more than a year as the Government “wanted to get it right”.

The Prime Minister said she had never had to suffer the sort of misogyny and abuse many women face, and admitted that public figures must to do more to make sure their decisions are shaped by people’s different experiences.

Ms May was also mocked on social media for struggling to answer interviewer Julie Etchingham’s light-hearted question on how she would “let her hair down” in a get-together with her girlfriends.

She said: ”What a question! And I haven’t thought about it, because my International Women’s Day is heavily focused on what we’re doing on domestic abuse.

“I’m not going to have the time to have the girls round and have an evening together I’m afraid...Well, I don’t think that when you let your hair down there’s only one way of doing it.

“I think it depends on the group that you’ve got, it depends on the time.”

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