UK Policy Briefings
Autumn Budget 2021: Violence against women and girls
Date Posted: Thursday 21st October 2021
“More than one in four women will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime, and 20% of women have suffered sexual assault.”
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) includes physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and financial abuse; stalking; harassment and coercion; forced marriage; so-called honour-based violence and female genital mutilation; child sex abuse; modern slavery; trafficking; pornography; and online abuse.
More than one in four women will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime, and 20% of women and 4% of men have suffered sexual assault (including attempts) since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 3.4 million women and 631,000 men.
Even before Covid, services were severely stretched and underfunded. Figures from 178 local councils show that 65% cut funding for refuges in real terms between 2010 and 2018; 59% of local authorities cut their funding in real terms in 2019/20. In the same year 57.2% of referrals to refuges were declined, with the main reason being lack of space or capacity.
“In 2019/20, 57% of referrals to refuges were declined.”
This crisis has been exacerbated by a sharp increase in demand during the pandemic. Emergency Covid funding from the government has been insufficient to cope with higher demand, and was only available on a short-term basis. Some of the additional refuges space made available in response to the first national lockdown in April 2020 will likely cease to exist in 2021.
The spending commitment – £43 million for 2021/22 – in the ‘Tackling violence against women and girls’ strategy does not come close to matching the funding required. Women’s Aid estimates that at least £409 million is needed next year for specialist domestic abuse services across England. This estimate includes the funding needed to meet women’s mental health needs and holistically support their recovery.
The Women’s Budget Group is calling for: A long-term funding settlement is required to deal with the crisis of gender-based violence, as well as investment in prevention, such as school programmes to address attitudes towards women and girls.