FUNDING to help victims of domestic violence in St Helens is to be drastically cut - despite a sharp rise in the number of attacks on women.
The borough’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) service - which provides support and advise to victims - will have its annual grant reduced by around 12 per cent.
Officials are currently working behind the scenes in the hope that they can re-organise the service without diminishing its efficacy.
There is currently only one IDVA staff member covering the entire borough despite an increasing workload and recent research calling for at least three more workers to be assigned to the office.
Money for the service comes from a central government grant designed to fund crime prevention schemes, via Merseyside Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy.
She said her office would be working directly with local organisations to minimise the impact of the cuts.
“The coalition government cut the funding available for crime reduction services on Merseyside by 12 per cent this year,” she added.
“This means that some excellent support for victims of crime will be less available than before.
“This year, I made the decision to give the funding I received via the Community Safety Fund back to the Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs), as they are made up of the agencies that know their communities best.
“I will work with the community safety partners in St Helens to minimise the impact of these cuts as far as possible.”
The funding cut emerged in a report complied by St Helens Council. The report’s author’s found a growing problem of domestic violence in the borough, linked to worsening economic conditions.
There were 4,480 reports of domestic violence last year compared to 3,920 in 2010. The report also found that while men are usually the perpetrators, last year 876 were victims themselves.
The role of IDVA is commissioned by the council from social housing group Helena Partnership Extra. Together they also run the borough’s refuge as well as a number of educational programmes, including one involving Saints ace Paul Wellens.
A council spokeswoman said: “As with all council services, funding streams are being reduced and efficiencies are being made across the board.
“It is imperative we seek to maintain the funding streams associated with domestic violence to enable the service to be provided, at least, at its current provision.”
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