Fight to save abuse victims from budget cuts

Devon County Council wanted to axe 100 per cent of its contribution towards a partnership approach to the problem. That proposal is now being reconsidered after a public outcry.

A PROPOSAL to withdraw funding from a partnership which protects vulnerable people from domestic violence is to be reconsidered following a public outcry.

Devon County Council agreed to review a decision to cut 100 per cent of its share after a joint scrutiny committee recommended the budget draft be referred back to the council’s cabinet committee for reconsideration.

A spokesman from Devon County Council said: “Devon County Council has withdrawn its proposal to cut funds by 100 percent following a new business plan produced by service providers on Friday.

The council’s leader, John Hart, said: “Over the last three years, the county council has increased its funding from �678,000 to �1.24 million, while other members of the service partnership have increased their total contributions from �100,000 to �128,000.

“We will fund a reasonable service this year, but we must also talk to the other funding partners so that we are not put in this position again next year.”

The Against Domestic Violence and Abuse (ADVA) partnership is made up of different agencies across the county, including the local authority, police, probation, education, social care, courts services, victim support and health services.

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Stop Abuse for Everyone launched a petition and set up a Facebook group to campaign against the cuts, which has developed a following of nearly 2,000 people.

Chris Pearson, the manager of Stop Abuse for Everyone, said: “Even if 50 per cent were to be put back into the budget it would still be a massive reduction and will still mean cuts to services for women, men and children in the community.”

She also explained that the cuts would affect specialist outreach services and independent advisors, as well as specialist support fro children and young people.

An NHS Devon spokesman said: “NHS Devon spends over �3.5m on people coming to A&E as a result of domestic violence and at least as much again on similar visits to GP surgeries, in addition to the �43k that we contribute to the ADVA partnership.

“NHS Devon also funds closely-related areas, including alcohol misuse and the sexual abuse referral centre service, which cost NHS Devon �1.4m and �75k a year, respectively.”

The deputy mayor of Honiton Town Council has also spoken out about the plans to cut funding, which he says would leave women and children at risk.

Vernon Whitlock, said: “The proposed cuts are difficult to comprehend as they will affect some of the most vulnerable people in East Devon and across the county.

“As an ex-police officer, I know what an essential job Devon’s domestic violence advocates and advisors do and how it makes a real difference to the lives of many women and children.”