Protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims of sexual violence is a priority for the Government. Our manifesto committed us to ensuring a secure future for refuges. In the summer Budget we committed a further £3.2 million for refuges, and we will consider the matter further in the spending review.
As a trustee of a fantastic Chippenham charity, Helping Victims of Domestic Violence, I welcome the Government funding committed in the July Budget. Will the Minister update the House not only on what work the Government are doing to improve victims’ access to refuges, but on what support they are giving local independent charities that play a vital role in constituencies such as mine?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. She supports the charity in her constituency, and I have had the privilege of seeing the fantastic work done by a charity in my constituency. Part of the point of the additional funding that has been made available is for local authorities to work with such voluntary groups to ensure that a service is available to all women who need it at the time when they need it.
Every Member will know that depending on charities for that type of service means depending on groups that are working hand to mouth and have no future security. Will the Secretary of State insist that local authorities give them a secure funding future and invest in specialist services, rather than expecting housing associations that are open only between 9 o’clock and 5 o’clock to make refuge provision?
The right hon. Lady is right that voluntary organisations need to work with local authorities. There needs to be a network of provision across the country, because the victims of domestic violence often have to go to a different local authority area to flee the people who have persecuted them and engaged in violence against them. She is right that there needs to be a dependable national system.