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Date Published
March 06, 2024

Today (Wednesday 6th March), the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has delivered the Spring budget, along with updated forecasts about the economy and public finances – providing a bleak outlook for ending violence against women and girls (VAWG), as the specialist frontline services and public services that we rely upon to prevent and respond to this abuse look set to face continued hardship.

Ahead of the Spring Budget, EVAW joined leading VAWG services in calling on the Chancellor to prioritise funding for lifesaving services and prevent a cliff-edge in support from April 2025. We also joined a variety of civil society organisations calling on the Chancellor to take real action on the structural economic causes of this current cost-of-living crisis ahead of the general election.

Unfortunately, today’s Budget instead reveals a prioritisation of tax cuts above sustaining vital public services, and an overall commitment to austerity at a time when the services that women and girls rely on are already crumbling under pressure. 

Despite some welcome measures which will provide piecemeal relief to those struggling, overall the Budget has not changed course from policy making which is widening inequalities and disproportionately impacting women and girls.

Our priorities for the budget

The End Violence Against Women Coalition, Imkaan, Rape Crisis England & Wales, Respect, Welsh Womens Aid, Women’s Aid and Women’s Resource Centre’s letter to the Chancellor highlighted key challenges facing the sector:

  • In 2022-23, over 60% of referrals to refuges supporting women experiencing domestic abuse in England were declined
  • 14,000 survivors are on the waiting list for vital support from Rape Crisis centres

Despite some injections of government spending for VAWG in recent years, funding has been insufficient and inaccessible to the support services that need them. In their letter to the Chancellor, the VAWG organisations highlighted the urgent need for clarity and commitment on government funding for frontline VAWG services post-2025, when significant funding streams are due to end.

Women at the sharp end of austerity

We have long highlighted the damaging impact of austerity and a cost-of-living crisis on survivors and the services that support them. Our joint VAWG manifesto highlighted how women are more likely than men to rely on social security, and how over a decade of austerity has led to both a fall in payments and a rise in poverty for women, children and those in work. 

Policies related to Universal Credit, the benefit cap, the two-child limit, the ‘bedroom tax’, the benefits freeze and other changes have all worsened gender inequality and other inequalities, which disproportionately affect Black and minoritised women, disabled women and single mothers. Women seeking asylum are also significantly impacted by these policies, as due to the current workings of the asylum system, many are trapped economically and forced into destitution. 

However, today’s Budget did little to change the course of direction. Key announcements include:

  • A real-terms cut in spending on public services which will disproportionately impact women, who rely heavily on public services due to structural inequalities in the labour market and across society.
  • A 2% cut to National Insurance Contributions which will benefit men more than women, with lone mothers standing to gain the least. 
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:

“Budget cuts are being felt most sharply by survivors of violence against women, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to exacerbate the funding crisis facing the life-saving specialist services that support them.

Many are facing significantly higher – and increasingly unaffordable – costs of running their services at a time when demand for their support is rising. These vital services are already being forced to plug gaps in the support available from public services, which have been consistently under-funded for well over a decade. Many are forced to close their doors, leaving women without the help they need. 

If the government is serious about ending violence against women and girls it must urgently provide long-term, sustainable funding for specialist VAWG support services, particularly those led by and for Black, minoritised and migrant women, Deaf and disabled women and LGBT+ survivors.”

Media contact

Sinead Geoghegan, Head of Communications,

Date Published
March 06, 2024
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