UK Policy Briefings
Spring Budget 2021: Violence against women and girls
Date Posted: Monday 1st March 2021
- Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) includes physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse, stalking, and 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 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse during her lifetime, and 20% of women and 4% of men have suffered sexual assault, including attempts, since age 16, equivalent to an estimated 3.4 million women and 631,000 men. 
- Even prior to the pandemic, services were severely stretched and under-funded. This crisis has been exacerbated by a sharp increase in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Emergency Covid funding by government has been insufficient to cope with higher demand, and also only available on a short-term basis, meaning that 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.
- In 2019/20, 57.2% of referrals to refuge were declined, with the main reason being lack of space or capacity. There is currently a5% shortfall in refuge capacity relative to Council of Europe minimum recommended levels, and this shortfall rises to 42.5% if non-commissioned spaces that are supported through donations and other funding sources are not included.
- The Domestic Abuse Bill, currently before the House of Lords, will place a new statutory duty on local authorities to support those experiencing abuse. While this is welcome, it will need to be matched by long-term, sustainable funding to ensure adequate services can be delivered. Research by Women’s Aid estimates that delivering a ‘safe and sustainable’ national network of women’s domestic abuse services would cost £393 million, including £173 million for refuges.