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Warning victims at risk due to Women's Aid cuts

ALMOST one-third of Women's Aid groups in Scotland have had to cut their services as a result of reduced funding, leaving many women and children at risk of domestic abuse.

A survey for Scottish Women's Aid showed 30% of groups had reduced or stopped services including crisis admissions to refuges outside office hours.

Some have also cut back on drop-in hours and the upkeep of refuge accommodation, while others have introduced a waiting list and are providing more telephone support and less face-to-face contact.

The figures also revealed that 71% of groups have experienced a surge in the number of women seeking help, but are struggling to respond to the demand.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Women's Aid said the figures raise concerns about the future of the service.

She said: "Funding cuts are having a serious impact on the provision of domestic abuse support services to women and children across Scotland.

"Women's Aid groups have tried to find solutions in the face of reduced funding. However, groups have reported they have had to provide fewer support hours for women, less face-to-face contact and reduced office drop-in hours."

The survey revealed that 84% of services were working with a reduced or standstill budget with no inflationary increase to cover a rise in costs.

One-third of groups also reported a deficit in the past financial year, up from a quarter in 2010/11. A total of 36% of services also had to transfer funds from reserves to cover their costs.

Women's Aid is financed mainly through Scottish Government and local authority funding.

The Government has pledged to maintain funding for domestic abuse services until 2015. However, Scottish Women's Aid claimed that, in real terms, this is a cut in light of increasing costs.

Contextual targeting label: 
Finance

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