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Support our refuges

READERS may be unaware of the little publicised proposal that Government plans to remove women’s refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.

If approved, this will mean vulnerable women and children fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation by the use of housing benefit, a reform which has the potential to dismantle the national supported network of refugees.

At the present time 53% of the cost of running the splendid Swindon’s Women’s Refuge derives from residents porting housing benefit income across to the refuge. The other 43% is made up of grants, fundraising and donations… hard work in itself.

Theresa May and others have rightly implored the police to elevate domestic violence, largely inflicted on women, up the country’s policing agenda and they are seemingly doing a reasonable job.

Already half the women and children nationally who ask for help are turned away due to lack of spaces. The country and the police urgently need and deserve more places of safety, not less.

Every year 73… yes 73... women are killed by a partner or ex-partner and 13,000 women annually seek escape from violent homes, often with small and vulnerable children.

I promise I’m not making this a party political points scoring exercise. It should be a subject way beyond such behaviour. I have, however, copied this letter to Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland who I think are decent people and, like me, I believe will be outraged if the narrow and parsimonious approach of the DWP manages to shut down 53% of the sanctuary our society provides for vulnerable women and families.

Please give this matter some publicity, and contact your MP also if you feel as I do.

If a Swindon constituent ends up dead or seriously injured for want of a place of safety, assuming this proposal is adopted, could they ever look those families in the eye again? I know I couldn’t.

John Stooke, Haydon End, Swindon

Government should pay

THE police budget ‘consultation’ is about as real as the one that was held for the parish precept payments and the start up of the parish councils - a done deal from day one.

Can the Police Commissioner inform the public what his actual wage bill for his staff is. He receives in the region of £60m plus from the government to pay this, and also receives via the precept payment from the Wiltshire public a sum of just over £30m.

The sum from those in the Swindon borough is around £12m of that county total. If the sum from the government isn’t paying his wages bill, then he needs to ask the Swindon MPs and the others in Wiltshire to get the government to pay more, not the public, We pay enough as it is.

I would ask how they spend that £12m, but the last time I asked, they refused to say.

T Reynolds, Wheeler Avenue