Wolverhampton Council defends cuts to domestic violence charity
A cash-strapped council has said it will do all it can to minimise the effect of swingeing cuts to a refuge for victims of domestic violence.
The Express & Star yesterday revealed how The Haven in Wolverhampton was facing the prospect of a 30 per cent cut to its funding following as the city council seeks to save £123 million over the next five years.
The charity was told it could have £300,000 a year cut from its budget, forcing it to shed around 10 of its 60 workers.
Policy manager for the charity Kath Farmer said the latest cuts would be on top of a change to funding arrangements six months ago, which saw its income effectively reduced by 20 per cent.
Mrs Farmer said the cutbacks could potentially put lives at risk, and the charity had been given just two weeks to respond to the proposals.
"With 30 per cent being cut from our budget, we don't know how we can make those savings," she said.
"We offer services to women who come in the middle of the night as an emergency because they are in fear of their lives."
The charity was established in 1973 to help women and girls who became homeless as a result of domestic violence.
It now operates six properties across the city, and is able to accommodate up to 63 women and 120 children.
Councillor Val Gibson, Wolverhampton Council's cabinet member for children and families, said the council was dealing with an unprecedented financial challenge due to government cutbacks.
"We must make savings of £123m over the next five years, on top of some £100m which we've already saved over the previous five years, and so unfortunately we are having to make some really tough decisions which impact on services we provide, or on organisations which provide services for us," she said.
"The Haven provides a really important service to people at risk of violence and abuse in Wolverhampton, and we're determined to do all we can to support domestic violence services in the city.
"We already provide greater financial support for domestic violence services than many other local authorities, and we intend to continue to do so."
Councillor Gibson stressed that no formal proposals had been drawn up at this stage, but the financial problems the council was facing meant it had to open discussions with The Haven about how it could reduce funding for its the services it delivered.
"We have asked The Haven to think about ways in which it may be able to make significant savings, while also enabling it to keep service users safe and, most importantly, ensure The Haven can continue to offer vital help and support to vulnerable women, men and families in Wolverhampton.
"We will also be working closely with The Haven to support it to access additional sources of external funding which we hope can go some way to making up any reduction in funding the organisation receives from the council.
"We are not happy that we may have to do this. but the reality is we are having to make significant savings across the council which have already affected other organisations, including other housing support and social inclusion services, in a similar way."