The campaign to stop changes to the funding of domestic violence refuges in Northamptonshire has received the support of Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.
Mrs Cooper said proposed cuts of 30 percent in funding were “deeply worrying” and came at a time when prosecutions and convictions were falling for domestic violence.
“Domestic violence refuges provide an essential lifeline to victims of abuse and it would be deeply concerning if Northamptonshire County Council made the decision to remove all the funding for so many vital specialist services,” she said.
On Monday, Sally Keeble, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Northampton North, presented a petition of 600 names to the council in protest over the changes. Since then, more than 200 additional people have signed the petition.
Mrs Keeble said funding for the hostels was at risk because of the Supporting People programme which finances accommodation and support services for a range of vulnerable people. She said the proposed new arrangements do not include a specific budget line for domestic violence services, and she feared the changes could lead to the collapse of services that are highly regarded in the county and nationally.
The petition, said Mrs Cooper, demonstrated “the depth of public support for the important work undertaken by refuges across the county”.
“The Home Secretary and Northamptonshire County Council should be working together to do everything possible to keep women safe,” she added.
“Across the country services supporting women have been disproportionately cut. In the first year of the Coalition’s term in office, funding for the domestive violence and sexual abuse sector fell by almost a third.
“There has been an appalling lack of leadership from the Government. They have left local government to make the difficult decisions about how to balance cuts in funding with the need to support victims of violence.”
Speaking to the Chronicle & Echo last week, a spokesman for the county council said said that following national funding changes, it was working with providers to develop the way services are delivered. He said: “We want better working links between all the different organisations that support victims of domestic abuse and a greater range of services that match the needs of the woman, man or family in need of support. This will ultimately mean more money being spent on these services and in a better way.”