TSB launches ‘emergency flee fund’ up to £500 for domestic abuse victims as cost of living crisis deepens
Charities are calling for a ‘National Emergency Fund’ to support the domestic abuse victims impacted by the rising cost of living
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The initiative will provide people with support payments between £50 and £500, depending on their individual needs, the bank said. The money is intended to assist people with paying for essentials, such as travel, clothing and toiletries, and will be paid into a TSB bank account that only the claimant can access.
The scheme, which has been developed in partnership with domestic abuse charities, will be operated from TSB’s 220 branches and can be requested by visiting a TSB branch where staff have received specialist training in supporting people who are experiencing domestic abuse.
It comes after the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Women’s Aid and others last month 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 – with concerns that the “crisis will only get worse in the coming months”.
TSB responded by initiating its own scheme, becoming the first bank to offer financial support to its customers. Carol Anderson, director of TSB’s branch network, said: “Our specially trained branch staff are ready to assist victims within their communities – and we would encourage any impacted TSB customers needing support to come and speak to us.”
The move has been welcomed by the Commissioner who continues to call on the government to step in and create a national fund which would be accessible to all survivors of domestic abuse.
Cost of living impacting domestic abuse
New data from Surviving Economic Abuse’s Financial Support Line shows that two thirds (67%) of domestic abuse victims are already in a negative budget or have less than £100 surplus at the end of each month.
Additionally, Women’s Aid found that women who do not have immediate access to cash at short notice are 3.5 times more likely to experience domestic abuse, and face considerable barriers to leaving an abusive partner.
The charity also 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.
TSB offers online ‘safe spaces’
TSB has also become the first bank to join the Online Safe Spaces initiative to offer help to victims from the TSB website, with the service becoming available in the new year.
The initiative, launched by domestic abuse charity Hestia, provides a discreet online portal on company websites for victims to get advice and helpful contact numbers. Importantly, it leaves no internet history trace, and provides quick exit options.
Patrick Ryan, chief executive at Hestia, said: “As the cost of living crisis continues to deepen, we are seeing an increase in demand for our domestic abuse support services. Online Safe Spaces are a vital way for victims to access life-saving information and advice without having to worry about their search history being discovered, and we’ve seen a huge increase in their usage in recent months.
“Now more than ever, it is vital that all victims of domestic abuse know they are not alone.”
Additionally, TSB is also launching a pilot scheme in partnership with Women’s Aid to allow domestic abuse victims to safely open and access a bank account, without standard documentation. In England, the pilot will initially run in the following TSB branches:
In Scotland, the Alloa, Dundee and Galashiels branches will pilot the scheme.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “We are also pleased to work together with TSB on a pilot scheme enabling survivors to safely open and access a bank account without having to provide full documentation, helping survivors to flee and rebuild their lives after abuse.
“We are glad that TSB customers will be supported by this scheme, and we urge the government to follow this example and urgently create a national fund that supports all survivors.
“At Women’s Aid, we have campaigned for over four months for an Emergency Domestic Abuse Fund to support survivors across the country to pay for essential items and energy bills, as we have found that 73% of survivors are struggling to leave an abuser due to the cost-of-living crisis. All survivors must be supported, and we hope that the UK government will listen.”