Wed 2 Oct 2013 – Women Against Rape supports
families’ legal challenge vs total benefit cap
which puts women’s and children’s lives in danger
9.30 a.m. Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, Holborn tube
Women Against Rape is supporting this legal challenge by four vulnerable families, including mothers & children fleeing domestic violence. For people in emergency and temporary accommodation, the total benefit cap is catastrophic, as rent takes up all or most of the allowed benefit amount, leaving them nothing to live on. If the cap is implemented, many victims of domestic violence will not be able to leave violent partners/fathers and their lives will be at risk. Lisa Longstaff of WAR says: ‘The cap combined with lack of legal protection for women and children victims of domestic violence is a recipe for murder.’ The families are represented by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors.
9.30 a.m. Join us outside court – called by Taxpayers Against Poverty, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence and WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) and others ... ALL WELCOME
10.30 a.m. Join us in court to hear the case. Case continues Thursday and Friday.
. . . . . . .
The government claims to be against violence and on the side of victims. They acknowledge that 30% of women have suffered domestic violence. But they are endangering women and children’s lives by deliberately cutting our means of escape. The cap will further victimise women fleeing violence because:
1. Although the government say that refuges are exempt from the cap, for technical reasons about half of refuges are not exempt. In 2011 an average of 230 women a day were turned away by Women’s Aid because of lack of refuge spaces*. Local authorities have reportedly cut £2m of funding so women are being advised to sleep at police stations, A&E, or even on night buses.
2. The total cap limits benefit to £500 a week per family. While the government trumpets this as a lot of money, for victims of violence most or all of it goes into paying for accommodation. Many homeless applicants are women fleeing violence whose emergency or temporary accommodation costs £500 a week or more, leaving capped families with £ NIL to feed and clothe their children.
3. Single women also have their total benefit capped -- at £350 per week. Some get ESA benefit due to mental or physical health problems caused by trauma from rape including domestic violence. But only a minority of ESA claimants – those in the higher rate Support Group – are exempted from the cap
This cut will force women to stay with violent partners, especially if they have children and their partners are wage earners.
Women and children cannot rely on the criminal justice system to deal with violent men. Two women every week are killed by their current or former partner – a shocking statistic that has not improved over 15 years. Channel 4 News (16 October 2012) reports “an estimated two million victims of domestic abuse in 2011 in England and Wales. Yet only about a quarter of incidents recorded by police result in arrest, and only 1.5 - 5% of incidents result in conviction.”
The criminal justice authorities repeatedly claim to have improved the conviction rate, but their figures only include those cases that reached court, and most cases never do. Their claims must be re-evaluated in the light of: the 10% rise in reports since 2010, and the 13% fall in cases police refer to the CPS revealed this week by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.
The cap should be repealed before lives are lost.
For more info, contact us on 020 7482 2496.
Previous press release from Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors http://www.hmbsolicitors.co.uk/news/category/item/index.cfm?asset_id=1522
*Report by Trust for London and Northern Rock Foundation, quoted in The Guardian 2012