In this blog, Robyn Moffat-Wall and Jitka Perinova write about their Glasgow-based project for women experiencing economic abuse.
What is Financially Included
We are a project developed by GEMAP Scotland and the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership, funded by the Scottish Government Delivering Equally Safe Fund in order to address a gap identified between women’s support services and advice services in addressing both economic abuse, and the financial impacts of gender-based violence. We identified that women who had experienced economic and financial abuse felt their needs were not being appropriately addressed by either sector. We work to bring these sectors together, raise awareness and educate on economic abuse and how best to support survivors.
We are the only project in Scotland solely dedicated to responding to economic abuse. Our small team aims to improve the response to economic abuse in Glasgow, by providing specialist services and delivering training to money advisers. Our one-to-one support helps women who have experienced gender-based violence on their journey towards financial freedom. We provide expert benefits and money advice to maximise women’s income.
Some experiences of economic abuse
Some clients need help to transfer from joint benefit claims to single benefit claims, some need guidance throughout the claiming process as they lack English language skills, knowledge of the UK benefits system, basic computer skills, or because they suffer from mental health difficulties and require extra support.
There are many forms economic abuse can take, some clients have never had control of their own finances in their lives, some were only allowed ‘pocket money’. We’ve supported women who were coerced into fraudulent benefit claims by an abuser, forcing them into statutory debt and risking criminal consequences.
Lots of our clients have sizeable debts such as utility, council tax or rent arrears and store or credit cards opened fraudulently or were coerced by abusers. We have successfully supported women in security debt write-offs or accessing grant payments.
Some contact us for advice before they escape abuse, to assess their options and begin safety planning their escape route. We support women to make informed choices based on their circumstances and entitlements.
Barriers to survivors’ economic independence
Some barriers to financial independence our clients face include technicalities around entitlement to benefits, often involving complex immigration rules. Other barriers take the form of post-separation abuse – economic abuse, unlike some other abuse tactics, can extend beyond a successful separation for years. Abusers take advantage of court processes, dragging out expensive legal battles, they withhold child maintenance payments among other tactics.
What can frontline services do
The best thing frontline workers can do to sustainably support survivors of economic abuse is to learn more about this issue, it is complex – and as a society we shy away from talking openly about finances. We can help with that – please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can bring our training to you and link you in with a trained money advice service!