Somerset's domestic abuse charities fear council cuts

Domestic abuse charities in Somerset say they are worried they could lose some of their funding as a result of local council cuts.

Government spending cuts have led to some councils, such as Devon, reducing the money they give to charities.

In north Somerset there were fears the main domestic abuse charity, North Somerset Against Domestic Abuse, would close at the end of March.

However the council has announced it will renew funding for at least a year.

One in four women, and one in six men, experiences domestic abuse at some point.

North Somerset Against Domestic Abuse director Juley Howard said: "We've had good funding from North Somerset Council, they've generally been very supportive.

"They're in an almost impossible situation at the moment because they did a good job budgeting for cuts and then they were told to take another £4.9m off the local budget.

"So, they're having to make difficult decisions."

Funding 'warning'

In a statement North Somerset Council said all service providers funded through Supporting People Grant, which includes domestic abuse charities, were contacted well before Christmas to warn them of possible cuts in funding.

North Somerset Council's budget for 2011/12 will be set at a full meeting on 22 February.

Taunton Women's Aid receives most of its funding from Somerset County Council but is having to look at new ways of raising money in case it is hit with cuts.

"We know how much money we've got until the end of June," said spokeswoman Liz Davaney.

"Beyond that, we don't know about any of our funding from the county council or the district council.

"We know it's difficult for the council. We know there's limited money. That's why we're trying to diversify and to get money in from other sources."

Somerset County Council said its overall funding for domestic abuse charities would stay the same next financial year.

However it added the amount different charities got "could change as the council reorganises".

In Devon the county council is looking at halving the grants it gives to domestic abuse charities. The national charity Refuge said it was worried that councils in other areas will follow suit.

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