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Victims of domestic abuse given lifeline payments in trial scheme
The cost of living crisis faced by the UK is a worrying and difficult time for much of society. For those experiencing domestic abuse, this worry is heightened. Victims are being forced to make a choice – remain in a dangerous home or face financial destitution if they are to leave. The threat of financial deprivation and potential homelessness has long been a barrier for victims of domestic abuse to leave abusive relationships.
In an effort to increase the support available to victims and attempt to reduce the prevalence of domestic abuse in the UK, the Government published their Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan in March 2022.
A year following the publication of this Plan, the Government has now revealed a trial of an innovative new approach in supporting victims. Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has announced that domestic abuse victims will receive direct payments to help them leave abusive households. The Home Office plans to provide domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid, with £300,000 to provide one-off payments of £250 to victims of domestic abuse. These payments can rise to £500 where the victim of domestic abuse has children.
This trial follows on from research undertaken by Women’s Aid which found that almost three-quarters of women are living with their abuser due to the rising cost of living and financial difficulty in leaving an abusive household. Research also found that two-thirds of victims have said that their abusers are using the rising cost of living argument as a mechanism to advance their coercive control i.e. to justify further restricting their access to funds.
The government funding as part of this trial scheme is granted to act as an emergency support fund to assist victims in leaving their abusive relationships. Victims would be referred by a frontline worker who would determine their eligibility. Funding will be made available through a variety of means such as bank transfers, vouchers, cash or through referring organisations. In many cases victims may have their bank accounts controlled so funds will only be delivered if it is deemed safe.
This scheme, alongside the ability for domestic abuse victims to be eligible for legal aid, builds on the governmental support available to help people flee from abuse. Domestic abuse victims may be eligible to receive legal aid through the Legal Aid Agency. This is dependent on the type of case to be solved and financial circumstances. Victims have to provide the Legal Aid Agency with documentary evidence that they or their children are at risk of harm from an ex-partner. This can include, for example, evidence from the courts, the police, social services or a domestic violence support service. The government guidance provides further information as to the eligibility of legal aid at Legal aid: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Whilst the majority of support for domestic abuse victims is provided by the police and the criminal justice system, there are various ways that family law specialists can assist. For more information on this please see: Domestic abuse: How does the law help? – Poole Alcock.
If you feel that you have concerns about domestic abuse or have any other family law enquiries, Poole Alcock are able to help and support you through our team of expert family solicitors. Complete our online contact form for a call back from our team or call us on 0800 4700332.
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