Domestic abuse fears rising due to universal credit changes

  • A watchdog is warning that universal credit could leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.

    The Joint Committee on Human Rights has said that universal credit could leave women exposed to abuse that see men limit their partners' access to money, reports the BBC.

    This is due to the benefit being paid to couples through a joint account. /images/briefing/monopoly_house_and_money.jpg

    The committee said it shared fears raised by women's groups that the system would "reduce the financial autonomy of women" and could leave domestic violence victims vulnerable to further abuse.

    A new domestic abuse offence of "coercive and controlling behaviour"', which can include the abuser preventing their victim from having access to money, was announced by the Home Office last year.

    Dr Hywel Francis MP, committee chairman, said: "Barely a week goes by without a news story regarding domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse or some form of violence against women.

    "We commend the government for the commitment it has shown to tackling these crimes but emphasise that the work to prevent these crimes must not let up."

    A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said there were domestic abuse experts in Jobcentres.

    "With universal credit, we are improving protections by giving people extra time to focus on getting their families back on track before encouraging them to look for work," he said.

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