Jess Phillips MP headshotJess Phillips Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley

Cameron is to blame for cuts to women’s refuges, not local councils

April 14, 2016 - 2:04pm By: Jess

David Cameron made some howling mistakes at PMQs this week when talking about women’s refuges. He joined in with one of his frankly forgettable colleagues with some typically loathsome yah-boo Tory back patting which saw him blame local Labour councils for refuge closures.
The Prime Minister has taken billions away from local authority budgets, but still expects them to be able to provide all the services they did before. Thirty-four specialist refuges have closed under the six years of Tory rule. The Women’s Aid Annual survey shows that on a single day at least 112 women and their 84 children were turned away from refuge because of a lack of resources. That’s 196 vulnerable people a day. Let that sink in for a minute. Funny how those Labour councils didn’t close women’s refuges under a Labour Government; in fact it opened them, hundreds of them. Can you see the problem now Dave, have you got it yet? It’s you!
Thirty-four refuges is just a number. Numbers don’t tell the real story.  Unless you are a domestic violence facts geek like me we can forget numbers easily. I worked in refuges for years and every number represents a person. I think of Anna who was raped every Friday at the exact same time by her husband, beaten if she resisted. When she was in refuge she wasn’t that Anna any more; she was a woman who wanted to be a nurse, and was great at teaching the other women to paint. I think of Alisha the 13 year old girl who had lived in seven different refuges in her life and had given up her childhood to become a mother to her two little brothers. In refuge Alisha became the girl who danced, who built a future and had a childhood. Tomorrow, the next day and the day after that, the new Annas and Alishas will be turned away, who knows what they will become.
The fact that David Cameron uses domestic violence victims for political messaging around the time of local elections is not a surprise, but it is a shame. If he really cared he could help. He could stop any woman being turned away. He could stop the cuts to housing benefits for women in refuge; he chooses not to. Again let that sink in: David Cameron chooses not to undo his policy which means women and children have nowhere to go. In 2017 the number of women and children turned away will be bigger and it won’t be any local council’s fault. It will be David Cameron’s.
Warm words are nice, warm beds are better.

First printed online at i news -

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