Wolverhampton Council criticised over plan to slash budget of domestic abuse refuge
Wolverhampton City Council has been accused of being 'unrealistic and short-sighted' over plans to slash more than a quarter of a million pounds from the budget of a refuge for the victims of domestic violence.
The cash-strapped authority wants to cut £300,000 from The Haven, a charity set up 40 years ago in Wolverhampton to support the victims of domestic abuse and their families.
But bosses at the charity say the cuts will leave them with no alternative but to turn people away as they struggle to cope with demand for what they say are already overstretched services.
The Haven currently gets £1,030,057 per year, but will see that reduced to £730,000 should the council's plans be approved. A consultation has been launched over the proposals, which form part of the authority's bid to save £123m by 2018.
Councillor Val Gibson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said despite the cuts, providing services to people at risk of domestic violence and abuse would continue to be a key priority for the council.
"We have been working closely with The Haven to look at how best we can meet the needs of people at risk of violence and abuse within the resources available," she said.
"Under the proposals, the service itself is not changing significantly; the main change is the number of bed spaces that will be provided. Government guidelines suggest there should be one refuge space per 10,000 population, and under these proposals we will be able to provide one bed per 5,000 population.
"Floating support services for people who do not require accommodation will remain unchanged. We now want to hear what people think of the proposals which will help inform any changes to the service going forward."
Hayley Edwards, spokeswoman for The Haven, said the council had failed to take into account the increasing strain on services.
She said: "The council is using outdated figures as far as we are concerned. We are being asked to reduce the number of beds available at a time when the demand on services is getting bigger all the time.
"Our refuges are always full and there is often a waiting list.
"This is a completely unrealistic and short-sighted approach. We understand the council has to make cuts, but we could be left with a situation where youngsters are forced to go into care because their is no space for them in a refuge.
"This will end up costing the council more."
The cuts are due to take effect from April 1. To take part in the consultation visit surveymonkey.com/s/housing_support.
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