Domestic abuse funding in 2021 Budget 'nowhere near' level needed says Leeds charity Inspire North

A Leeds charity director has spoken of her "utter disappointment at the paltry amount" pledged for tackling domestic abuse in the 2021 Budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that an extra £19m would be awarded to programmes across England and Wales.

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Most of the funding will be delivered during the upcoming 2021/22 financial year to programmes working with perpetrators to reduce the risk of reoffending.

Sinead Cregan, director of development and innovation at Inspire North.

The remaining £4m will help pilot a network of respite rooms providing specialist support to vulnerable homeless women in England between 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Sinead Cregan, director of development and innovation at Inspire North, said: "My first reaction is that any new funding is always really welcome because it's badly needed, but secondary to that was my feeling of utter disappointment at the paltry amount I think the Government is making available because it will not go anywhere near towards the level that's required.

"I'm not just talking about support for victims. It's also how you support children and young people who've witnessed or been subjected to domestic abuse or domestic violence themselves. It's also programmes that target the perpetrators, refuge provision, general support into accommodation."

She said that when you look at all the different levels of intervention needed and try to meet that demand across two countries, it is clear how thinly £19m will be spread.

Based in Leeds, the charity's wide-ranging work across the north of England includes running a refuge and working with perpetrators of domestic abuse.

"We definitely need to see more work done with perpetrators," Ms Cregan said. "It's only really when you start to change the perpetrators that things start to change."

The additional funding in the Budget builds on £125m allocated last month to help councils in England provide therapy and support in safe accommodation for victims and their children.

Ms Cregan said this focus was very much needed, adding: "A group that gets missed a lot of the time are children involved and how we provide adequate trained support staff to work with the children in their own right, whether they're supported through counselling or their education."

The Domestic Abuse Bill currently working its way through the parliamentary process promises to place a legal duty on local authorities to commission and procure domestic abuse services once it passes into law.

Ms Cregan said the Bill is "rightly aspirational about the protections it aims to bring about" but the subsequent Act could fall flat without significant funding to back it up at a time when local authorities are already having to make tough decisions about budgets.

"The Act needs a funding stream to sit alongside it," she said. "Otherwise it will be impossible to deliver many of the commitments of the Act because the funding won't be there.

"We're forcing local authorities to prioritise one thing over the other. It would make sense absolutely to prioritise refuge space, but demand will continue to grow if you don't stop the abuse in the first place.

"It shouldn't be a choice. Both should be funded because they're both critically required."

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