Supporting migrant victim-survivors of VAWG

  • By Hannah Kuehn

This briefing alerts members to the recent launch of the Investing in Safety Report and Cost Benefit Calculator, jointly published by Southall Black Sisters, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Safety4Sisters, Ubuntu Women Shelter and The Angelou Centre. The report found that when migrant victim-survivors of violence against women and girls (VAWG) with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) are able to access specialist support provided by by and for services, net savings are generated to local public services.



Violence against women and girls

VAWG, encompassing a range of violence that disproportionately affects women and girls, including domestic abuse, sexual violence, harmful practices, and so called ‘honour’ based violence, is a systemic human rights abuse endemic in the UK. It is a key driver in generating avoidable costs and demands on local public services. Notably, domestic abuse alone costs the UK economy £74 billion annually. Local public services, including the NHS, police, social care, housing and MARAC bear a significant portion of this expense.

No recourse to public funds

The NRPF condition places prohibitions on access to the majority of welfare benefits, including income support, housing benefit and a range of allowances and tax credits. A 2016/17 survey conducted by London Councils revealed that the average annual spend to support NRPF households per borough in London was £1.7 million. NRPF increases the likelihood of women experiencing VAWG by three times compared to the general population of women. According to a report released by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner in 2022, approximately 32,000 victim-survivors with NRPF are estimated to report domestic abuse to an authority.

By and for services

By and for services are distinct from mainstream VAWG provision and public services, as they are governed, designed and delivered by Black, minoritised and migrant women and girls. These services are trusted by the survivors and communities they support due to their understanding of multiple forms of disadvantage, their linguistic and cultural accessibility, and their intersectional practice. However, findings from the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s report, ‘A Patchwork of Provision’, indicate that by and for services are six times less likely to receive statutory funding compared to generic specialist services.


Investing in Safety Model Resources

The Cost Benefit Calculator, launched alongside the report, serves as a financial model that quantifies the difference in demand and costs to local public services over three years where the by and for service is made available to victim-survivors with NRPF. This is compared to scenarios in which the by and for service is not made available. It was found that the by and for service yielded a net savings of £18,024 per woman for local public services over the three year period. These savings were realised across various public services, including the NHS, children’s social care, housing and homelessness services, policing and MARAC. The cost of putting in place the by and for service intervention, at an average cost of £8,132 per woman, has already been subtracted from the net savings.



The report and accompanying Cost Benefit Calculator presents a significant opportunity to use the findings to create an invest to save business case for funding by and for services for victim-survivors with NRPF. The Cost Benefit Calculator can be adjusted to reflect local circumstances and scaled accordingly to provide precise savings projections. Investing in by and for services not only provides a means of cost-saving, but also substantially improves outcomes for women and reduces demand on the local public service system.

The findings of the Invest in Safety report align with those of the 2023 London Councils report, which analysed funding for support services addressing the needs of victim-survivors of VAWG in London. The report found that specialist, by and for organisations face significant structural barriers in accessing funding, including short application windows, complex monitoring requirements and short-term, yearly funding cycles. It also revealed that only 27% of identified VAWG funding in London was received by by and for organisations, which should be considered within the context of London’s diverse population, with more than half of the city belonging to minoritised communities.

These insights align with strategic shifts that prioritise addressing VAWG within policy frameworks in health, children’s social care and policing. Additionally, they reflect the increasing public pressure to combat and eradicate VAWG.

Download the final report here. 

VAWG Funding for Support Services Report 2023