The Home Office has today (25th July 2023) announced the recipients of its £8.3million Violence Against Women and Girls Support and Specialist Fund.
We are deeply disappointed that this fund has failed to ring-fence funding for lifesaving services led by and for Black and minoritised women, and other marginalised groups including migrant women, Deaf and disabled women and LGTBQ+ survivors. Despite these services being best placed to provide tailored, holistic support to the most marginalised survivors, they are chronically underfunded and therefore often on the brink of collapse.
This fund had the potential to help so many of these services, but due to the way it has been designed, we are saddened but unsurprised to see smaller but vitally important specialist organisations not named as the recipients of the millions being distributed. A fund aiming to support ‘by and for’ organisations must take into account and be responsive to their needs if it is to be accessible to the services that most need it. In failing to do this, the Home Office’s latest funding announcement is really no different from any other fund; replicating and further entrenching inequalities in access to statutory funding.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition, along with a wide range of specialists including Imkaan and Women’s Aid, has long called for ring-fenced national funding for specialist ‘by and for’ services. Current funding structures and practices systematically disadvantage ‘by and for’ organisations while benefiting large, white-led services. During the design of this fund, we raised the alarm that its set up would further marginalise smaller ‘by and for’ services, but our concerns were ignored.
While funding has gone to a number of important specialist services, we are concerned to see a significant proportion of the fund go to statutory agencies, reducing the potential for it to reach smaller non-commissioned services led by and for Black and minoritised women and other marginalised groups.
Specialist services are struggling to meet demand and stay afloat in the cost of living crisis, at a time when survivors need them more than ever. It is ‘by and for’ organisations, and the marginalised women they support, who are hit hardest by this funding crisis. It is high time the government made good on its promises to prioritise violence against women and girls, and committed to sustainably funding specialist support services with funding processes that reflect the needs and challenges of expert ‘by and for’ organisations.