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TSB launches emergency fund for domestic abuse victims

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Written by: Rebecca Goodman
09/12/2022
TSB has launched an emergency flee fund with payments of between £50 and £500 for victims of domestic abuse.

The money will be available for those fleeing from domestic abuse to pay for essentials such as travel, clothing and toiletries.

It will be paid into a bank account that only they can access.

Those who are in need of help can contact the bank for help and the amount paid will be dependent on their circumstances.

The bank says it is the first to offer this kind of financial support to its customers.

It comes a month after the domestic abuse commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, Women’s Aid and other groups called on the Treasury to create a national emergency fund to support the growing number of domestic abuse victims impacted by a rising cost of living crisis.

Domestic abuse victims rise during cost of living crisis

It is predicted that the number of victims of domestic abuse, which includes economic abuse, will rise as the crisis worsens.

Two thirds, or 67%, of domestic abuse victims already have a negative budget or have less than £100 left over at the end of the month, according to research from the Surviving Economic Abuse and Money Advice Plus.

Women who do not have immediate access to money are also three and a half times more likely to experience domestic abuse, and face considerable barriers to leaving an abusive partner, according to Women’s Aid.

It found that three quarters (73%) of women living with, or having financial links with the perpetrator said that the cost of living crisis had either prevented them from leaving, or made it harder for them to leave.

Yet many people are unaware of the signs of domestic abuse or how to help victims.

The money will be available in TSB branches

The emergency scheme will operate out of TSB’s 220 branches. It has been created with advice from the domestic abuse charities Hestia and Surviving Economic Abuse. Money will be paid into a safe TSB account that only the person claiming it can access.

TSB said branch colleagues have previously received specialist training to support victims of domestic abuse.

Several high street banks offer safe spaces in branches for victims of domestic abuse. They are discrete areas where victims are able to get financial advice and information. These spaces are also available at locations including pharmacies and supermarkets such as Morrisons, Boots and Superdrug.

TSB is now offering an online safe space for those who need it. Launched by domestic abuse support service Hestia, these online spaces provide a discreet online portal on company websites for victims to get advice and helpful contact numbers. It also leaves no internet history trace, and provides quick exit options.

Hestia says it has seen the number of people accessing support and advice via online safe spaces rise 158% in the last few months. In October 178,000 people used one, compared to the usual average of 70,000 per month

A pilot is also taking place between TSB and Women’s Aid to allow victims to safely open and access a bank account without having to show the standard documentation usually required.

The pilot will initially run in TSB’s Norwich, Swindon, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Alloa, Dundee and Galashiels branches.

“Many victims and survivors won’t be a customer of TSB”

Nicole Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner, said: “I am really delighted to see that TSB has created this emergency fund to support its customers who are living with domestic abuse and I would very much like to see other banks and companies offering the same provision.

“However, many victims and survivors won’t be a customer of TSB and we need to see urgent leadership and action taken by the government in response to this crisis. It’s imperative that the Treasury sets up a national fund which is available to all survivors of domestic abuse.”

What to do if you’re a victim of domestic abuse

Hestia offers the following advice for victims:

  • Seek support. Call 999 if you are in immediate danger.
  • If you don’t have access to a phone and can leave the house, go to your nearest physical safe space.
  • If you have access to the internet there are also online safe spaces where you can find useful information on other services, alongside being able to locate physical safe spaces.
  • You can use the safe space in whatever way you need, it offers a discreet space for calling family/friends and other support services such as the Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247)
  • If you and your children need a place of refuge, you can call Hestia’s Referral Line on 0808 169 9975 to find a space.

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