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Budget 2015: George Osborne can’t do the sums on domestic abuse

Is he actually making a £16bn problem worse?

WARNING - CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES THAT SOME MAY FIND UPSETTING

 

George Osborne says he is going to stop domestic abuse!

In his first Tory blue budget , the Chancellor of the Exchequer said: “We will increase funding for domestic abuse victims and women’s refuge centres.”

Earlier, he announced £3.2million new funding and said: “I am determined domestic violence victims get the help they need.”

Great, right?

 

"Bingo! I think..."

 

But maths never was his strong point, so let’s go over the numbers.

Domestic abuse affects one in four women and one in six men in the UK.

That’s 7,125,000 women, and 4,600,000 men.

But there are just 3,594 beds in refuges in the UK.

So there are 3,262 victims of violence for each bed in a refuge.

 

"7m women, 4m men, divided by 3,594... carry the one... er.... six?"

 

Domestic abuse costs our economy £16billion a year - four times what we spend as a nation on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The costs include £1.76bn for the NHS to patch up physical wounds; £1.2bn on the criminal justice system; £280m on social services and £190m on housing.

Added to that is the cost of days off work, people who are banned from working by partners, people who develop mental illness so they can’t work, and children moving schools.

If austerity is about tackling our expensive problems, this should be at the top of the list.

 

"Well have you got any better ideas? Oh."

 

The social impact is simply so vast it can’t be defined. But a victim of domestic abuse – adult or child - can suffer physical disabilities, mental illness, post-traumatic stress, and extreme anxiety problems.

Even those whose experience is at the milder end of the scale find it hard to trust, to fall in love, to move in with a partner or remarry.

They’re more likely to stay single, need a home of their own, or have repeated relationship breakdowns.

If the Tories want to “support the family”, domestic abuse is the place to start.

 

PAThe murders of the pregnant woman and her toddler son by her mentally ill ex-partner could not have been "reasonably predicted" by any individual or agency, a serious case review has found
Rachael Slack and her son Auden, killed by her mentally ill ex-partner

 

Two women are killed every week by their partners – and each one costs the police a little over £1m to investigate.

A further three women every week commit suicide to get away from their abusers – 30 women attempt this method of escape every single day.

If Osborne wants to save money and ease pressure on the NHS, this is the thing he should be tackling.

 

Attacked by mother: Wendy Miller was hit over the head with a milk bottle, leaving her with serious brain injuries

 

So it’s a big problem, right? Even Gideon’s maths would categorise £16bn and 260 dead women every year as “big”.

In 2010, the government spent £100m on domestic abuse services and helped to maintain 187 refuges.

Today, there are just 155 refuges and he’s announced £3.2m to be shared between them.

 

ReutersYanis Varoufakis
"I'm even worse at sums than you are!"

 

Thirty two refuges have been forced to close in the past five years principally due to a loss of funding from local authorities, which were ordered by Osborne to find £20bn of cuts.

He’s also cut legal aid for victims of domestic abuse, mental health services, and housing benefit for people under 25.

 

North NewsChanttelle's injury's shortly after the attack
Chanttelle Ward, 20, after being attacked by boyfriend Rhys Culley. He bit through her lip

 

This all affects victims of domestic abuse – not only are younger victims more likely to need help with housing, but children from the care system are more likely to experience it before and after being taken into care.

Despite the cuts, last year 6,163 women found a bed in a refuge, along with 6,665 children.

About three quarters of them had to leave their local area to find a refuge – meaning they also lost jobs, school places, and family support.

A further 74,000 women and 13,000 children were helped through outreach services, because a room in a refuge isn’t the best solution for everyone.

 

CatersHolly after the attack
Holly Hayles was beaten by Rees Adamson after just three dates

 

But at the same time there were more than 20,000 referrals to refuges, and a third of them – 6,428 in fact – were turned away for lack of space.

On just one day in 2014, 112 women accompanied by 84 children were turned away by refuges which had no space for them.

They either returned to their abusers, or sought emergency B&B housing from their local authority which is more expensive than a refuge bed.

 

Philip CoburnSacha Williams-Rowe
Sacha Williams-Rowe was stabbed by her boyfriend and left for dead

 

Of the women who got in, 47% were found to suffer from mental health problems.

It costs just £9,500 for a woman to stay in a refuge for six months, during which she’ll get training, counselling, help to find work and a home.

A quarter of domestic abuse services are run by volunteers.

So what will Osborne’s £3.2m do?

 

PAChancellor George Osborne
"Oh no, not long division?"

 

Well, it comes on top of £10m ‘emergency funding’ he gave last year, and which has been spent already.

The £3.2m will cover just the next nine months – it runs out in April.

It equates to just 27p for every man and woman in the UK who experiences domestic abuse.

It’s less than a third of the £9.8m which the charity Refuge raised and spent last year – and they’re only one of the dozens of organisations working to help victims of violence in their own home.

 

Chancellor George at William Hare Ltd, California Works, Castlecroft Road, Bury"Nope, nope, can't see your point at all."

 

So do the sums. This is not an “increase in funding for domestic abuse victims and women’s refuge centres”.

Nor is it going to help anyone much “get they help they need”.

And it’s not a victory for anything except blind stupidity.

What this money will do is placate campaigners, make it harder to complain the government’s not doing enough, and anaesthetize the brains of every voter who hears the announcement and thinks the problem is solved.

 

LNPGeorge Osborne
I wonder if anyone'll notice?

 

Because it’s not.

Osborne is running the risk of enabling abuse, reinforcing it, and sending men, women and children back home to suffer more of it.

Those 260 women who die every year at their own hands or those of their abusers will carry on dying. Men and children will die too.

Children will not learn in school how to spot and escape an epidemic which manifests itself in every street, every classroom, every workplace.

Women will think they have no choice but to stay, men will think they won’t be believed, and the abusers will do as they please.

And we’ll keep on spending £16bn a year on something we could fix, if only George Osborne could add up.

It’s amazing how much ignorance £3.2m can buy.

Taken from The mirror website 09/07/15