Last week’s spending review ordered local authorities to cut expenditure by a whopping 25.6%. This could be very bad news for women facing domestic violence.
For the last two years we have received £30,000 from local authorities in London through the London Councils grant scheme. We use this funding to help women and girls from the capital’s Middle Eastern communities who are facing domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Weeks before the spending review the London Councils – knowing that cuts were coming – announced that our funding could be under the axe. Instead of spending money to help women from across London, the boroughs would rather keep it to spend locally.
For weeks we’ve been taking part in consultations, ringing borough councillors and writing to MPs, trying to persuade them to save our project. We had a breakthrough last Tuesday when members of the London Councils Grants Committee met and agreed that tackling violence against women must remain a top priority. But then the spending review happened, and now we’re worried that they might change their minds.
The London Councils must stick to their decision and protect funding for critical violence against women services like ours. We know that difficult decisions have to be taken but the women we work with must not bear the cuts. They have already endured beatings, rape and imprisonment. Many have been forced into marriage, and when they try to escape their husbands they are shunned – or worse – by their own families. Local authorities must not abandon them, budget cuts or not.
We won’t let the London Councils leave our clients out in the cold. They make their final decision on 25 November – a month from today – and until then IKWRO will keep making noise. We’re only a small team and it’s taking up time that we’d rather spend on clients who need our help now. But if the London Councils decide to maintain our funding then we can continue supporting women and girls for as long as they need us. We think that’s worth fighting for.