Sisters Uncut

Taking direct action for domestic violence services.

Sisters Uncut blockade Treasury with fence to demand ring-fenced funding for domestic violence services

Monday, March 14, 2016

10:00am, Monday 14th March 2016

PHOTOS: Sisters Uncut blockade Treasury with fence to demand ring-fenced funding for domestic violence services

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Twitter: @sistersuncut

TODAY at 9:15am feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut blockaded the official entrance to the Treasury with a fence, to demand ringfenced funding for domestic violence services. Officials and advisors heading to morning meetings were met by 16 women on the steps of the Treasury, holding up a fence to represent the need for ring-fenced funding for domestic violence services. Sisters Uncut, who protest cuts to domestic violence services, are taking action two days before the budget in a last minute plea to demand that Osborne ring fences funding for domestic violence services.

The security guards closed the doors of the Horse Guards Road entrance to the treasury, and although police were called, no arrests were made. The group left peacefully after attaching a banner that read ‘Ringfence DV services’ to a police van. The activists were met with more aggression from members of public trying to get to their morning meetings than the police: one assaulted an activist, calling her a ‘vile bitch’ and pulling out some of her hair.

Sisters Uncut are taking action because the ability of domestic violence survivors to flee abuse now depends on their postcode. Specialist domestic violence services are funded by local councils, whose budgets have been halved by Osborne. Vital services and the women they support face a precarious future, and already areas of the country are returning to a time before refuges existed.

Domestic violence services across the UK have lost over 30% of their funding since 2010, and their future is uncertain. Refuges are disappearing, and those left are forced to turn away 1 in 3 women due to lack of space. Some services that currently remain open, such as the specialist LGBT service Broken Rainbow, have no guarantee that they will still be running in a year’s time.

Between 2010 and 2014, specialist domestic violence services that support women in minority groups decreased by 17%. Imkaan, who run services for BAME groups, have been forced to close two of their six specialist refuges. In spite of this, the government has not secured any funding for specialist domestic violence services that support BME women. A recent report from Imkaan, ‘state of the sector’ details the funding crisis of BME services.

Sisters Uncut demand that Osborne delivers a long-term economic plan for women’s safety by ring fencing funding for domestic violence services at the national level. As stated in their statement released on International Women’s Day: “domestic violence survivors are not safe if funding is not secure”.

Osborne announced short-term gestures towards domestic violence services in both 2015 budgets. In the 2015 July budget, Osborne pledged a paltry £13m for domestic violence refuges. In November 2015, he announced a £40m ‘tampon tax’ fund that domestic violence services can apply to over the next four years. Sisters Uncut describe this measure as nothing but “a sticking plaster on a haemorrhage” and maintain that the only adequate model to guarantee women’s safety is long-term, ring-fenced funding for domestic violence services.

Sisters Uncut maintain that austerity is a sexist, racist choice. Domestic violence support services are a vital lifeline for women fleeing domestic violence: they need secure funding in order to continue their life-saving work.


Tara Adams, a domestic violence support worker who is taking part in the disruption, says: “George Osborne has used his budgets to create a ‘permanent pothole fund’, but domestic violence services are still being forced to struggle with short-term, shallow pots of cash. Women are not safe if funding is not secure.”

Kat Vail, a member of Sisters Uncut, says: “We have a very basic demand: the government must ring fence funding for domestic violence services. This is the only way to make sure they can stay running and keep saving women’s lives. Domestic violence is high in the UK – 1 in 3 women will experience it – yet services that support survivors are being forced to close because the government won’t put a secure funding plan in place.”

Rachel Gibbons, the member of Sisters Uncut activist who was called a ‘vile bitch’, says: ‘We were expecting aggression from the police, but not members of the public. People should be angry about the fact that women are dying because they can’t flee abuse, not about us peacefully drawing attention to it’.  


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Photo credit: Claudia Moroni