Support for victims of abuse faces £1m cut by Devon County Council
VICTIMS of domestic violence could be left without a vital support service after Devon County Council proposed to cut all of its funding.
Adva (Addressing domestic violence and abuse) could now face the axe if plans to withdraw £1million of its budget go ahead.
And around 50 jobs could be lost.
The organisation, which is a partnership agency between Devon County Council, police and women's refuge services has been praised as being the best of its kind in the country.
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Councillor Jill Owen, county councillor for Priory and St Leonard's in Exeter, who chairs Adva, told the Echo: "We knew Adva would have to have a cut because the settlement from central Government has been so awful but we did not expect to be annihilated."
Cllr Owen has said she will lobby the county council hard to get it to change its mind about the proposed cuts which she says could mean the loss of 50 jobs.
She said: "Adva is a partnership but the bulk of the money has always come from the county council. It has been described as the best in the country in tackling these issues by a previous attorney general.
"It is very good at helping very vulnerable people and now the county council is saying because it can't get any money out of its partners it is not prepared to give any commitment."
Chris Pearson, manager of SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone), formerly Women's Aid, said: "We assumed there might be some cut to the service but no one ever thought they would cut it 100 per cent – it's devastating.
"It puts an end to Adva and to every bit of outreach provision across Devon, including the independent domestic abuse advisors and those who help victims go through the courts, the repair work we do, the family work and the work we do with perpetrators.
"Apart from there being refuges, everything else will be wiped out – it puts us back by about 20 or 30 years. There is going to be a huge impact on the victims we would have been able to work with. Everyone is in a state of shock."
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw also condemned the proposed cut.
He said: "Women and young girls who are victims of domestic violence are among the most vulnerable in our community.
"It was one of only two services commissioned by the county council that won a special "green flag" commendation for its impressive results," he said.
"I am absolutely dismayed by this decision which completely blows apart claims by the Government and county council to be trying to protect the weak and vulnerable from their cuts."
A county council spokesman added: "Our proposals this year include funding to women's refuges of nearly half a million pounds to secure vital places for victims fleeing domestic violence.
"Adva is a partnership organisation and Devon County Council has been by far the main funder of its activity to raise awareness of domestic violence in Devon, going way beyond our statutory duties in this area.
"Safeguarding and harm reduction will be a key focus in our new structure, whether for vulnerable children, older people or victims of domestic violence."