08/11/2012 03:59 GMT

Domestic Violence Services Could Shut Because Of Government Cuts, Theresa May Is Warned

The government has been warned that already "stretched" services dedicated to tackling violence against women could disappear completely because of cuts.

According to a leaked presentation obtained by The Huffington Post UK, a government committee chaired by Theresa May has been told they needed to do more to help combat violence against women, including recognising the effect of benefit cuts on women’s services.

The Home Office-led Violence Against Women And Girls Inter-Ministerial Group, which meets every three months, was told some departments had policies that were actively unhelpful.

theresa may

The government has been warned that services dedicated to tackling violence against women could disappear

It comes after The Huffington Post UK revealed services including refuges, rape crisis centres and centres for victims of sexual assault have been cut by councils nearly £6m when comparing budgets from this financial year to 2009/10.

The data revealed that services such as Homesafe in Greenwich, which helps victims of domestic violence home security, have been cut due to what the council said was a withdrawal of government funding.

In the wake of the research, women's groups have warned the government cuts to specialist services could have a disastrous impact on thousands of lives.

Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of domestic violence charity NIA said some of her staff had been given redundancy notices for three years running because of uncertainty over funding.

"Three months before the funding is due to end we have to come in for redundancy proceedings with staff.

"There are staff for three years running they've received a redundancy notice that we've not necessarily had to act on in the end but they're continually working with that threat over their head," she told The Huffington Post UK.

"We don’t turn people away because we’d never get to the point of accepting them in the first place but we are dealing with fewer cases than we used to," she added.

Sarah Green, Campaigns Manager for the End Violence Against Women Coalition told The Huffington Post UK: "If refuges close or sexual violence helplines go under, women and their children can be left in need when they are already at their most vulnerable.

"The Jimmy Savile scandal is sadly a reminder of the scale of sexual abuse and the fact that adult survivors might need help throughout their lives."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "This government is serious about keeping women and girls safe, not only by ring-fencing £40m funding for frontline services, but by helping expose the true face of domestic violence, which is more complex and more widespread than people often realise.

"We are constantly looking at ways to strengthen protection for victims, through specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services, rape crisis centres, the national domestic violence helpline and the stalking helpline."