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Brexit and its victims

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What Brexit means for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

It’s the talk of the town. Brexit. Boris Johnson’s deal still hangs in limbo. A general election on the horizon and new deadline of 31st January 2020.

There’s little certainty around what will happen if we leave the EU.  Media spills with facts and reasons, but this still only paints a small picture of the truth. The national uncertainty comes at a time when many domestic abuse services are already struggling. Funding for these services has fallen by 50%, whilst national figures and studies show that the demand for these services has risen by 83%. Experts have warned that further cuts to welfare services and the loss of EU grants post Brexit will have life threatening consequences for victims suffering from domestic abuse and violence.

This and the continued delays to the Domestic Abuse Bill raise serious concerns amongst domestic abuse charities. This Bill is crucial to the safeguarding of victims and survivors, defining domestic abuse for the first time in British Law, but has yet again been swept to the side-lines due to the upcoming election.

So what does Brexit mean for domestic abuse victims and survivors? According to UK charities they could be hit the hardest as domestic abuse organisations are set to lose vital EU funding.  Financial support from the EU has long provided a lifeline for small specialist organisations who struggle to access government funding. This funding also pays for research into violence against women and training for those supporting survivors of domestic abuse. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said ‘The Government must mitigate any negative impact of Brexit on equality, including women’s rights. This means making sure its funding, to replace what the EU currently provides, protects the scarce resources available to support women survivors of violence and domestic abuse.’

One of the main EU funds that supports domestic abuse services is the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC). For the whole of the EU it has a £343million budget, over a third of which directly supports victims in the UK.

The Chief Executive of the Equality and Diversity forum said it is ‘crucial’ that any replacement schemes continue to invest at the current levels or more. She continued to say, ‘It’s also vital we don’t see a reduction or loss of projects supporting people facing violence, abuse or exploitation.’

Women’s Aid, one of the UK’s leading domestic abuse charities said, ‘EU law has significantly strengthened the rights of victims of domestic abuse and Violence Against Women and girls offences, including the rights of referral to victim’s services, access to specialist support and the provision of shelters. ‘

There are significant, well placed concerns about what impact Brexit could have on domestic abuse organisations. Potentially, leaving the EU, could actually give smaller services a bigger chance at receiving government funding, with Brexit providing an opportunity for the government to ensure that every domestic abuse service has a fair chance at receiving funding.

At Johnson Astills we have a dedicated Domestic Violence and Abuse Department. If you have any further questions and require legal advice please contact Johnson Astills on 0116 2554855, or visit our website.