Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cutting Domestic Violence... The Budget For

Let me preface this post by announcing that I am not a deficit denier. That phrase is loosely applied to anyone who doesn't agree with George Osbourne's strategy for dealing with the massive debt this country faces but it is extremely misleading. To criticise and illuminate people is not to deny.

I've been alarmed by the swingeing cuts to arts budgets. I've been perturbed by the wholesale reorganisation of the NHS which appears to be a vehicle for implementing Tory ideology. However, several notable stories have cropped up which have reminded me there is something even more precious at stake as the government swings the axe.

Today, the Guardian are reporting that the county council in Devon have proposed to cut 100% of the £1m it current gives to the three charities which constitute its domestic-violence network. Without this money the organisations will likely flounder as the amount they receive in donations is, comparatively speaking, rather small. It isn't scaremongering to suggest these cuts will have severe consequences. More women will be injured with no place to go, more children will watch their parents engaging in fights and their futures may be harmed by the experiences. Also, if such situations do result in hospitalisation or worse then the burden falls back onto the tax payer anyway.

I see this as the latest in a worrying line of ideological cuts which impact vulnerable families. Married couples are to be given tax breaks to promote the stable family environment as the one to aspire to. Who doubts that this will encourage people to stay in unhappy and possibly abusive relationships because they can't afford to be apart? In addition, legal aid is being cut to cases where the custody of a child is up for discussion. If a mother can't afford the legal costs of fighting for her children then won't she just stay in a relationship that's bad for all concerned?

Taken separately most government legislation can be seen in terms of the money it saves. That's all well and good - the money needs to be saved somehow. However, add up the impact of these cuts on the most vulnerable members of society and they begin to look a little less rosy.

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