Women Against Rape (WAR) and others are launching a petition asking the public to support women and children impoverished by the Benefit Cap after escaping violent relationships. A legal challenge on behalf of affected families will be heard in the Court of Appeal in early 2014.
Solicitor Rebekah Carrier describes the Cap as ‘catastrophic, cruel and arbitrary’, one third of women have suffered domestic violence, approximately every week two women are killed by partners or ex-partners, in England and Wales.
The Benefit Cap limits a family’s total benefit to £500 per week, including rent and Child Benefit. Extortionate rents, including for some refuges and hostels, leave mothers and children with little or no income to live on.
A test case is being fought in court on behalf of families impoverished by the Benefit Cap after escaping violence. So far, there is no exemption from the Cap for victims of violence.
Many victims of violence are unable to get a job immediately or to move to a cheaper area – they need to stay close to friends and relatives for support, and time to recover and to reassure distressed children.
Women Against Rape was among the groups demonstrating at the High Court in October. We heard in court what the mothers and children have gone through, including living for years in rundown housing.
They are represented by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine, who describes the Cap as catastrophic, cruel and arbitrary:
“Two of the families have fled domestic violence in circumstances where they were financially reliant upon their abusive partners, and they now face a stark choice between descending further into poverty and risking losing their homes, or returning to their abusers in order to escape the imposition of the cap.”
Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape says: “We call on the government to put the safety of women and children first by lifting the Benefit Cap so no one is trapped in a violent a relationship where they risk injury, trauma and even death.”
The petition is endorsed by the Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Legal Action for Women, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) and Women Against Rape.
Please sign online here
For more information about the petition contact WAR
Tel: 020 7482 2496 firstname.lastname@example.org