Domestic abuse campaigners ask about Brighton and Hove Council funding

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Supporters of the charity for domestic abuse survivors, RISE, quizzed councillors on how government funding had been allocated.

They said that three contracts were put at risk when Brighton and Hove City Council set its budget last month and cut funding for the community and voluntary sector by 10 per cent.

Their questions focused on “new burdens” grants. These were brough in to reflect a change in the law – the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 – which required councils to provide support in a safe place for survivors of domestic abuse.

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Samantha Kidd asked about a “needs assessment refresh” which was due to be carried out last August, before the £632,000 “new burdens” funding was allocated to the council.

Leslie Pumm, LabourLeslie Pumm, Labour
Leslie Pumm, Labour

Ms Kidd asked for assurances that all of the 2024-25 new burdens funding would be protected for domestic abuse services.

She quoted council leader Bella Sankey who praised the “fantastic organisations” across Brighton and Hove that focus on ending violence against women and girls.

Ms Kidd also asked why the LGBT “dispersal accommodation services” provided by RISE were being recommissioned in September, rather than for the start of the next financial year, allowing the services to operate as they are through to next March.

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Labour councillor Leslie Pumm responded at a meeting of the council’s Equalities, Community Safety and Human Rights Committee at Hove Town Hall yesterday (Monday 25 March).

Councillor Pumm, who chairs the committee, said that the new burdens funding was “ring-fenced” and that the council worked with the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Board to assess need.

On the recommissioning of services, he said: “We looked very carefully at this service – and officers are in conversations with RISE and we will continue these conversations.

“There are worries about how the contract performs and we want to make sure to get the best services available to perform the LGBT dispersal accommodation.

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“That’s why we will put the contract as agreed previously out for tender when it runs out in September 2024.”

Councillor Pumm also responded to a question from Gail Gray about the recommissioning of the LGBT refuge service by saying that RISE was not being decommissioned.

There was an outcry in 2021 when RISE missed out on key contracts worth £5 million over seven years to support victims of domestic violence and abuse in Brighton and Hove.

Since then, domestic abuse and violence support services have been provided by Victim Support while another organisation, Stonewater, has provided refuge services. The contracts were awarded by the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Board.