Benefits or barriers? Making social security work for survivors of violence and abuse across the UK’s four nations

Date Posted: Wednesday 12th June 2019

Social SecurityUniversal CreditViolence Against Women And Girls

Aspects of the social security system undermine the UK Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill.

Economic abuse is included in a statutory definition of abuse in the draft Domestic Abuse Bill; but the Bill’s potential is undermined by aspects of the benefits system that give additional scope for abusers to misuse benefits (e.g. the Universal Credit single payment) and by failing to meet survivors’ needs.

Read the full report here.

Read the executive summary here

The report by the Women’s Budget Group, Surviving Economic Abuse and End Violence Against Women Coalition has found that the social security systems across the UK fail survivors of violence and abuse when they need help most.

Social security is letting down women who are living with an abusive partner.
Social security is letting down women when they try to leave.
Social security is letting down women when they are trying to build a new life.

There are differences in social security policies and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategies across the four nations of the UK, meaning that women in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different experiences.

However across the four nations women are more likely than men to rely on social security as they are more likely to have caring responsibilities, interrupted employment patterns, lower incomes and lower pay. Women are also more likely than men to receive certain benefits, often related to caring roles. In addition, women can be ‘shock absorbers’ of family poverty, often responsible for managing household budgets.

Women, particularly poor women, black and minority ethnic (BME) women and disabled women have borne the brunt of cuts to social security since 2010. Around £37 billion per year will have been cut from social security by 2020 as a result of cuts and changes since 2010. The four-year ‘freeze’ to most working age benefits and tax credits has affected 9 out of 10 single parents and other families with children. Specialist services for women have been cut, as have other services on which they rely such as advice and legal services. 

The press release for the report can be found here.

This report is delivered as part of a project with the Coventry Women’s Partnership


Coventry Women's Partnership is a unique 3-year project, led by FWT – A Centre for women, which has been created with 5 organisations in Coventry to ensure women in the city feel supported, empowered and believed. We want to break down barriers in access to crucial services, and to make support easier. Our partnership includes Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, CRASAC, Coventry Law Centre and Kairos WWT.

Through referrals across the partnership, we will work with women who need support in any of the following areas:

• Education, Training and routes to Employment
• Confidence Building
• Financial security including Debt Advice
• Health & Wellbeing support & easier access to services
• Rape & Sexual Abuse
• Domestic Violence
• Pathways to exiting prostitution, homelessness & drug addiction
• Staying safe from Sexual Exploitation
• Language support
• Access to childcare
Our research partner, The Women’s Budget Group, will be working with us to evaluate this visionary & innovative project for women in the city.

To receive support or to find out more, please contact:
(024) 7663 7693
(07340) 540659
Twitter: @FWTCov