FUNDING for tackling domestic abuse is set to be cut by 50 per cent at Worcestershire County Council, it has emerged.
Your Worcester News can also reveal how the cut is coming at a time when calls to the county’s domestic abuse hotline have risen by 77 per cent.
Now, experts fear the cuts will result in “escalating violence” against women, with more hotline calls not getting answered straightaway.
But the council say they have to prioritise services and reform adult care.
The cash-strapped council wants to slash the spending from £912,000 to £462,000.
It comes despite 6,000 incidents of domestic abuse recorded in the county in 2012/13 and calls to the West Mercia Women’s Aid hotline rising 77 per cent year-on-year.
Of the current funding, about £420,000 of it goes to the aid organisation, which offers crisis accommodation, the advice line and outreach assistance.
Jan Frances, West Mercia Women’s Aid chief executive, said she feared women risked more violence if services are faced with the cuts, as calls have increased from 1,800 a year to more than 3,200.
“If the cut comes in we’ll have longer waiting lists, fewer calls getting answered when they ring, and longer delays in getting back to people,” she said.
“I can’t stop the calls coming in, all that will happen is we’ll deliver services to less people. We can’t provide what we’re providing now.
"I don’t blame the council, because I know their funding is going down, but these are cuts on cuts.”
The consultation forms part of the Future Lives programme, which totals £32 million of cuts to adult social care.
And Councillor Paul Denham, the opposition Labour group’s spokesman for children and young people, called the reduction “staggering” and said all abuse services would be hit.
“We all know early prevention is vitally important when it comes to child abuse,” he said.
“Many children will now be put at risk through lack of funding in this area – to cut funding in such a vital area is callous and cruel.”
But Councillor Sheila Blagg, cabinet member for adult social care, said services needed to be prioritised.
“We know we need to do things differently and with an ageing population, we are reforming adult social care to meet the needs of more people with less money,” she said.
“It is important to be clear that we have decided not to change the eligibility criteria for adult social care and that the Future Lives programme is also about empowering people to stay healthy for longer, remain in their own homes where possible, and find support easily.
"We need to review all services and prioritise those which we legally must provide.”
The consultation runs until Tuesday, January 21, and for more details visit worcestershire.gov.uk/futurelives.
Paper copies of the consultation are also available in public buildings in the county, including the Hive, Worcester.