After working with West Mercia Women’s Aid to lobby the Government on changes to the funding for supported housing, Rachel has welcomed the Government’s decision to allow women in refuges to continue to claim housing benefit.

Last year, Rachel was contacted by West Mercia Women’s Aid, which provides services for the victims of domestic abuse and their families, about proposals for changes to the funding of supported housing. The charity believed the proposals would have had serious consequences for the future of refuge provision in West Mercia.

As a result, Rachel began to lobby the Government and met with Ministers to express her concerns with the proposed changes.

The Government has now listened to the concerns raised by MPs and charities, including Rachel and West Mercia Women’s Aid, and has advised Women’s Aid Federation England that women in refuges will be able to continue to claim housing benefit.

This decision has made a significant difference for the future of refuges across the country, including here in West Mercia, according to West Mercia Women’s Aid who wrote to Rachel to welcome the Government’s decision.

In 2017/18, West Mercia Women’s Aid supported 140 women and 178 children as residents in their refuges. The charity’s Independent Domestic Advisors also successfully supported 950 victims of domestic abuse whose circumstances were considered to be ‘high risk.’

Protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims is high on the Government’s agenda, with increased funding of £100 million pledged between now and 2020.

Rachel said: “In their darkest hour and time of need, charity’s like West Mercia Women’s Aid are there to support victims of domestic abuse and their families.

“I was extremely concerned about the impact the Government’s proposals could have had on the future of these vital women’s refuges. However, the Government has listened to our concerns, done the right thing and confirmed women living in refuges will still be able to claim housing benefit.

“There must be a reduction in the prevalence of all forms of violence against women and girls, matched by increases in reporting, police referrals, prosecution and convictions for what can still be hidden crimes. And there must be an emphasis on earlier intervention and prevention so that fewer women reach crisis point and every victim gets the support they need – and the support their children need – at the right time. Let me assure you that this Government is committed to making sure women get the support they need to ensure long-term changes to their lives and the lives of their children.”