This Conservative government’s current housing benefit policy is to close every DVA refuge in the country. If the current LHA maxima policy is left unchallenged it definitively WILL close every domestic violence and abuse refuge as will also happen if the reduction in the overall benefit cap policy is left unchallenged.
This is all about the bottom line, the funding, those pesky facts called numbers and despite my being male I have professionally advised and developed and got funding for 17 female refuges and 1 male refuge over the last 20 years.
The ignorance about how they operate and especially how they are funded even among many feminist groups is poor and you have to set aside all emotive and moral issues and focus on the money and other non-emotive facts in order to understand why they will all close.
Given that Theresa May, the Home Secretary set up the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) department at the Home Office and is now the favourite to become the next Prime Minister, you can also deduce that Theresa May is chronically ignorant of the fact that all refuges will inevitably close due to her party’s welfare benefit policies.
Here is why they will close.
1. DVA Refuges are dependent upon Housing Benefit to pay for the rent and also all the services that go with a refuge such as being furnished from white goods to soft goods to bedroom and other room furniture, communal furniture and so many other necessities including staffing in part. All of the above are covered by Housing Benefit’s rules and regulations and some of these only apply to a refuge such as playground equipment including soft matting underneath swings etc – they are all funded through HB regulations.
2. The Conservative policy of the LHA maxima (often wrongly called the LHA cap that already exists and operable from 2012) will restrict the levels of Housing Benefit paid to any social landlord to the amounts paid to private landlords from 2017. Private landlords do not operate refuges and the HB regulations actually forbids this and all other forms of ‘supported housing’ so the comparison is not like for like.
3. To put this into figures at the most stark, a women who has no children and is fleeing violence and abuse will on a national average only receive £68 per week in Housing Benefit because she is single. A typical refuge rent on a national basis is upwards of £250 per week, and necessarily so as all costs claimed are heavily scrutinised for HB purposes. From advising so many refuge services over so many years I can state that around 30% – 35% of all women entering a refuge are single and under 35 and so this £68 per week towards a typical £250 per week rent is all they will receive. Hence no refuge can afford to accommodate them from next April.
4. Logically – and removing the clear moral issues that all refuge operators do not want to do this or would even contemplate it – that suggests refuge operators should only accommodate a women with 4 or more children as that household unit would qualify for the 4 bed rate of LHA rather than the £68 per week maxima for a single women under £35, and the 4 bed LHA rate has a national average of £212 per week … which is still about £40 per week short of a typical rent there.
5. Yet the single woman with 4 children would receive nearly £360 per week in JSA and child tax credits and so is only allowed £24 per week as the maximum in Housing Benefit as the reduced overall benefit cap falls to £384 per week this autumn and as such would only receive £24 per week towards the £250 rent at the refuge outside of London. In London the overall benefit cap is £442 per week when it reduces and so the maximum Housing Benefit would be £82 per week and towards a refuge rent that will be much higher than the £250 per week national average.
6. So both the LHA maxima policy and the reducing overall benefit cap policy mean that a refuge cannot accept any women with or without children if these policies go ahead and MUST inevitably mean that all refuges as we now know them must close as they are ALL non viable financially.
I first made this point back in 2011 when the then coalition government first announced a LHA maxima proposal and the reason why I started blogging in the first place. Back in 2011 the Tory-led coalition put out a consultation paper proposing for all supported housing to include other accommodation based services such as homeless hostels as well as refuges to be limited to either (a) LHA maxima only or; (b) LHA maxima plus £20 per week; or (c) LHA maxima plus £40 per week.
I said them using actual figures from refuges I advised this would see an income reduction of between 24% and 65%, or in simple terms closure. Yet now this Conservative government is proposing the worst of these options in just the LHA maxima alone!!
The fact the 2011 consultation paper saw the coalition hastily bury the policy – and not even produce a consultation response – shows that the Conservatives knew then that such a policy would inevitably close ALL domestic violence and abuse refuges. That was around the same time that the then Home Secretary Theresa May developed the Violence Against Woman and Girls or VAWG department under her wing at the Home Office.
The VAWG has a remit of reducing violence against women and girls yet the LHA maxima policy increases and institutionalises higher levels of violence against women and girls … and male children who also suffer the trauma of witnessing DV.
The LHA maxima policy of the current Conservative government that appears soon to be led by Theresa May who set up VAWG is incredibly f*cking stupid and incredibly dangerous and will inevitability and undoubtedly lead to more than the much stated two women per week dying from it. It is utter brainless madness in simple terms as well as holding this Theresa May irony.
This is not meant as a party political point; rather as a simple point of stating the bloody obvious to the idiots in government regardless of their political hue. ALL refuges will close unless the LHA maxima policy changes and unless the reducing overall benefit cap policy exempts those entering a refuge.
The same policies and their interaction will also close all single homeless hostels, all homeless families units and all extra care sheltered housing as well as the majority of all other sheltered housing too.
No government in their right minds with any hope of being re-elected would choose to evict women fleeing domestic violence or the pensioner from sheltered housing yet that is precisely what the LHA maxima policy does.
So it is the most brainless deluded f*ckwittery of a policy from any political party ever and these policies simply have to go if Theresa May wishes to be re-elected and does not wish to see the Conservatives routed at the next election. So yes Jeremy Corbyn or whoever is leading the Labour Party now or in 2020 there’s one hell of a big hint there for you to do your job and oppose this madness.
The pesky facts give Labour an open goal so find your balls!
Finally, to the many overt feminist lobbies who naturally surround the domestic violence and abuse agenda should also, for once, get off their parochial and blinkered sole focus of the feminist aspect of this, which I agree usually has much merit, and instead concentrate on the numbers and the bottom line; those irrefutable and ambiguous pesky facts that cut across any political labelling you receive for your feminism as excuse – as once these numbers are known to the ignorant f*ckwit politicians who developed these policies then those policies become history … or herstory if you prefer.
If you don’t individually and/or collectively then violence and abuse becomes Torture by May …