Cost-of-living crisis

Victim-survivors of domestic abuse are likely to be among the worst affected by the cost-of-living crisis. SEA is urging the Government to provide vital support.

Abusers can take advantage of the rising cost of living to force victim-survivors to pay more, push them further into debt and exploit their economic situation. The repercussions of this abuse will be greater with the steep rise in living costs meaning many victim-survivors are already in financial difficulty. Increasing financial pressures will further restrict victim-survivors’ options, even trapping them with an abuser.  

SEA and partners Money Advice Plus found that:  

  • 67% of victim-survivors of domestic abuse are already in a negative budget or have less than £100 surplus at the end of each month 
  • victim-survivors currently have an individual average debt of £20,000 – six times more than in 2020* – and this is expected to grow after the winter
  • lack of surplus funds and increasing debt will mean victims are unable to leave abusers and be more vulnerable to serious physical, emotional and economic harm.    

Support for victim-survivors is critical at this time. 

Our policy calls 

SEA has two priority calls for the Government:  

1. Provide an emergency fund to support victim-survivors to escape abuse  

A recent Women’s Aid study found that 73% of those living with an abuser said the crisis had either prevented them from leaving or made it harder to do so. Together with Women’s Aid, Surviving Economic Abuse is calling on the Government to provide an emergency support fund covering every local authority. This fund would enable women to flee domestic abuse and help cover the short-term costs of moving. The fund should be available to all women, including those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Financial support for women to support them at the point of leaving is vital to allow them to reach safety and begin to rebuild their lives.    

2. Provide non-means tested legal aid for all victim-survivors of domestic abuse  

With the costs of essential items and bills rising sharply, women experiencing domestic abuse will have even fewer resources to pay for the legal costs needed to separate from an abuser. Our Denied Justice report found that 45% of women made serious cutbacks that affected their ability to pay for basics, such as food, in order to pay legal fees. This situation will only have worsened due to the rising cost of living, with victim-survivors who are denied legal aid having no way of paying the legal fees that will help them to reach safety. We are reiterating our call that the legal means test is scrapped for all victim-survivors of domestic abuse.  

SEA’s key policy influencing activity 

  • Aug 2022: Together with Women’s Aid, SEA calls for an Emergency Support Fund for survivors. This was picked up in media including The Independent.  
  • Oct 2022: SEA published a blog with Women’s Aid to further urge the Government to provide an emergency fund for victim-survivors of domestic abuse.
  • Nov 2022: SEA and Money Advice Plus released data on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on victim-survivors’ economic wellbeing.   
  • Nov 2022: SEA responded to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement by reiterating calls for an Emergency Support Fund. Alongside Refuge and Women’s Aid, we welcomed the announcement that benefits would increase in line with inflation. 
  • Nov 2022: We joined 80 women’s sector organisations in calling on the government to ensure women have the support they need during the cost-of-living crisis.  

*Refuge, 2020. Know Economic Abuse.