Spring Budget 2021: Violence against women and girls

Date Posted: Monday 1st March 2021

View and download the full briefing here.

Key points:

  • 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[1], 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. [2]
  • 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.[3] 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.


[1] ONS, 2018, Domestic abuse: findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales: year ending March 2018 https://bit.ly/34cTZp8

[2] Sexual offences in England and Wales: year ending March 2017, ONS, 2018 https://bit.ly/2C0Y83y 

[3] Women’s Aid (2021) Domestic Abuse Report 2021: Annual Audit (https://bit.ly/37XpJ5X)

View and download the full briefing here.