9:20am Tuesday 8th October 2013
By Gina Bebbington
REFUGE providers have expressed their disappointment that changes to services for domestic abuse victims will go ahead despite intense scrutiny.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWAC) ruling group agreed to alter its domestic abuse provision with proposals to reduce three refuges to one hub and emphasise early intervention and behavioural work with perpetrators.
This decision was investigated by CWAC’s safeguarding scrutiny committee in a four-hour debate but the only concession was that the committee would receive regular updates and would be allowed a say before any future decisions on the topic.
Carmel Duff, chief executive of Phoenix Domestic Abuse and Support Services, which currently runs a mid Cheshire refuge, said: “We are obviously very disappointed that the decision or any recommendations haven’t gone back to the executive group.”
Phoenix’s main concerns are a new 30 per cent cap on the number of people seeking refuge from outside west Cheshire and plans to reduce a stay in the new hub from 18 weeks to 12 weeks.
Carmel said: “We are very concerned about the length of time they’re expecting people to stay in refuge.
“12 weeks would be brilliant but it’s about what happens next.
“Will there be affordable, safe accommodation for people to move to?
“And also what sort of follow on support will people be given?”
She added: “The bottom line is that what the council is doing is saving £55,000, which isn’t a massive amount of money in the great scheme of things for them.
“But there’s currently 17 bed spaces in refuges, which they’re reducing to 12.
“One of our ex-clients said ‘so what about those five people?’ – this is about real people, not money.”
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