Domestic abuse refuges across Lancashire are set to receive a funding boost.
Lancashire County Council will be handed £878,000 of government cash as part of plans to ensure that there is a consistent service for victims across England.
The move comes ahead of the introduction of a new legal duty requiring all local authorities to provide “life-saving support” to those fleeing abusive relationships - which the government says will end the “postcode lottery” of services on offer in different parts of the country.
Lancashire County Council already funds several refuges in the region and last year awarded a new contract for them to be operated by a lead provider over the next three years.
Under the arrangement - with the domestic abuse service, Safenet - the authority requested the development of specialist refuge provision for those whose circumstances are further complicated by drug and alcohol misuse or mental health problems. Suitable services for male victims of domestic abuse are also expected to be designed during the lifetime of the contract.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet Member for community services, said: "This funding will be used to directly help people to get support from domestic abuse services. This is a one-off amount, which will support the equivalent of 25 full time jobs, directly with the local organisations who provide these services.
"This will help individuals and their children who are going through very difficult times, by providing better access to safe accommodation and the related support.
"We've worked in partnership with our colleagues at other councils, including the district councils and our neighbours in Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen; as well as the Police and Crime Commissioner's office and the providers themselves, to identify what services would be the most appropriate to help people who need this kind of support."
A spokesperson for Safenet said: “As lead provider of the Lancashire Refuges provision, the news that the government is investing this money into domestic abuse services in the North West is welcomed; on a daily basis, we see first-hand just how important refuge services are. The money will help to make a real difference to the lives of those in the most vulnerable situations.”
Under the Lancashire Refuges umbrella, Safenet works with Fylde Coast Women’s Aid (FCWA), The Liberty Centre in West Lancashire, Progress Housing Association in South Ribble and Chorley Women’s Refuge.
Lancashire County Council had considered withdrawing financial support for refuge services back in 2016 as part of budget savings, but scrapped the idea after a public consultation.
The current contract with Safenet was advertised as having a potential annual value of £871,000 - before the government cash which has now been announced.
Announcing the funding, communities secretary Robert Jenrick MP, said: “Domestic abuse destroys lives and leaves victims living in fear in their own homes – the place where they should feel most safe and secure.
“No victim of domestic abuse should have to struggle to get the right support, or wait months for help that they need. This new funding of £2.1 million [across the North West] will help councils better protect victims and their children and provide essential life-saving services, delivering the urgent support that they need to rebuild their lives.”
IF YOU NEED HELP…
...call Safenet on 0300 303 3581 or visit safenet.org.uk. In an emergency, always call 999.