Domestic abuse refuge crisis due to cost-of-living hike

  • 30% increase in demand for domestic abuse refuge
  • £5,000 hike in rehoming victims
  • Charity provides emergency refuge spaces in response to increased demand

The cost of living crisis is already leading to an increase in domestic abuse cases and demand for refuge spaces. That is according to the domestic abuse charity Hestia, who have seen a 30 per cent increase in demand for domestic abuse refuge spaces and support in the first quarter of 2022.

Hestia, who support thousands of women and children and are one of the largest providers of refuges in London, say families are also having to stay in refuges for longer as the cost of rehoming them rockets due to price rises.

New analysis carried out by Loughborough University has found that the cost of rehoming a single mum with two children[1], is now £5,000 more than it was two years ago[2].

Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia said:

“The cost-of-living crisis is having a detrimental impact on those experiencing domestic abuse. Families are coming under significant strain. We need to act quickly, and we need to act now. During the pandemic, Hestia opened 24 additional emergency refuge beds. We will do everything we can to keep this refuge open as we see the need for refuge places rise. This is only possible with the help of our generous supporters who enable us to support families to get to safety and recover from the trauma of domestic abuse.”

The charity say the poverty crisis is the biggest contributor to the increase in demand for refuge spaces.

Rohana* who fled her abusive partner with her son and has now found accommodation says it’s very hard to manage day-to-day.

"Sometimes I think ‘Why did I call the police?’ because at least my son was being provided for and we had food. Now we have nothing. But then I think at least we are safe and that’s worth a lot. But it’s very hard. I only eat one meal a day – everything goes on my son. The system is not working for victims of domestic abuse and it’s only going to get harder. I’m exhausted and I’m dreading the next lot of gas and electricity bills.”

Hestia are now appealing for donations to help them provide support to victims of domestic abuse in the year ahead.

Donate to support families in Hestia's refuges now.


About the analysis

The analysis was undertaken by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP), Loughborough University. CRSP conducts applied social research and policy analysis on issues related to poverty, living standards and income adequacy. The analysis made use of data from ongoing Minimum Income Standard research carried out by CRSP and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. First published in 2008, the Minimum Standard Income (MIS) is a basket of goods which includes food, clothing, entertainment, transport and other living costs, which members of the public believe families should be able to afford in order to reach a minimum acceptable standard of living. MIS is produced through multiple group discussions with members of the public, who reach agreement about what a minimum basket needs to consist of. This includes assumptions about housing costs and childcare – this analysis uses data on childcare costs from Coram Family and Childcare, and the rents used here are those from the social housing sector. The cost of rent and childcare varies across the UK and London, and so this analysis should be seen as indicative of the level of costs, and increases in these, rather than as definitive.

The analysis took the minimum basket of goods and services for a single mother with two children, one pre-school and one primary aged, and categorised each individual item as either an ongoing (i.e. weekly) or upfront cost. That is, the goods and services that would be needed on a weekly basis by this household (e.g. rent, food, toiletries, social activities), and the upfront cost of items needed immediately when moving into a home (for example, sofas, beds and a washing machine). This categorisation made it possible to calculate how much a single mother with two children would need to set up a home as well as what was needed on a weekly basis across a single year. In 2020, this household needed £651 each week and faced an upfront cost of £11,132; in 2022, the same household needs £718 a week, and faces an upfront cost of £12,702. This means that in order to set up home (upfront costs) and meet ongoing minimum needs for a year, a single mother with two children needs £5039 more in 2022 compared to 2020.

[1] Providing what the public agree is needed for a minimum standard of living each week.

[2] This analysis takes into account both the upfront costs of moving from a refuge into rented accommodation and the ongoing weekly costs needed to provide this minimum, socially acceptable living standard.

*Not her real name