Houghton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson, has warned, during a debate in the House of Commons, that the Government’s plans for welfare could seriously damage the chances of women fleeing domestic violence.
The Government’s plans for welfare reform include scrapping discretionary payments from the Social Fund without any detailed plans to replace the fund. Bridget explained why this fund was vital for women fleeing domestic violence.
She went on to explain:“The fund provides an essential safety net for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities who, at time of extreme hardship or disadvantage, need financial support.”
"It is because of my experience working with women affected by domestic violence and their families that I am so concerned about the Government’s proposals and what they could mean for those women."
After the debate, Bridget said:“By scraping specialist funds, such as the discretionary social fund, it’s only the most vulnerable and marginalised in our community that will suffer.“A woman fleeing domestic violence often must leave her home with nothing more that the clothes she is standing in, without money or access to money, but she still needs access to vital items for herself and her children, from food and nappies to children’s clothing. The social fund provides a vital lifeline for those women. Although far from perfect—I admit its shortcomings—it gives reassurance to the woman that help is available should she need it so that she does not feel pressured to return home to violence simple because she has no access to money. Community care grants allow women to start afresh, with a new life and a new home, by covering some of the costs attached, such as a washing machine or a cooker.”
“I call on the government to urgently bring forward plans to publish detailed proposals for a replacement scheme. It's vital that ministers issue clear guidance to local councils, which include eligibility criteria and an independent appeals mechanism. The replacement funding should be ring fenced to ensure it goes to those who are most in need."
To read the debate in full click here.