TSB launches ‘Emergency Flee Fund’ for domestic abuse victims, as Hestia reports rising demand for help
From today TSB will offer existing customers who are impacted by domestic abuse an ‘Emergency Flee Fund’ payment of up to £500 to help escape an abusive relationship.
The fund, which will provide between £50 - £500 based on the individual’s needs will assist victims with the cost of essentials such as travel, clothing and toiletries - with TSB becoming the first bank to publicly offer such a scheme.
Last month, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Women’s Aid and others 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 months1.’
TSB responded by initiating its own scheme, becoming the first bank to offer financial support to its customers.
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.
The scheme, which has been developed with guidance from both Hestia and Surviving Economic Abuse, will be operated from TSB’s 220 branches. The funds will be paid into a safe TSB account that only the claimant can access.
TSB’s branch colleagues have previously received specialist training to support victims of domestic abuse.
Cost-of-living impact on domestic abuse
New data shows that two thirds (67%)2 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 found3 that women who do not have immediate access to cash at short notice are three and a half times more likely to experience domestic abuse – and face considerable barriers to leaving an abusive partner.
Women’s Aid 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 also becomes 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.
Launched by the domestic abuse charity Hestia, Online Safe Spaces 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.
Hestia has seen the number of people accessing support and advice via Online Safe Spaces skyrocket over the past few months, with a 158 percent increase.
In October alone, 178,000 people used an Online Safe Space, compared to the usual average of 70,000 per month
The introduction of Online Safe Spaces will run in conjunction with the Safe Spaces TSB currently offers in its 220 branches across the UK.
Women’s Aid pilot
In partnership with Women’s Aid, TSB is also launching a pilot scheme to allow domestic abuse victims to safely open and access a bank account – without full documentation. The pilot will initially run in TSB’s Norwich, Swindon, Wolverhampton and Walsall branches. In Scotland, the Alloa, Dundee and Galashiels branches will pilot the scheme.
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.
“We know that Cost of Living pressures are having a disproportionate and devastating impact on victims and survivors of domestic abuse who are being forced to stay with perpetrators. In a recent survey by Women’s Aid, 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.
“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.”
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid said:
“Women’s Aid welcomes the launch of TSB’s emergency flee fund, which addresses a vital need to help survivors escape abuse in this crisis period.
“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.”
Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive, 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, and so we are grateful to TSB for joining us as the first partner to host both physical and Online Safe Spaces.”
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.”
For more information about our campaign to support victims of domestic abuse with our strategy of: Intervening Early. Crisis Support. Building Towards a Future, please read Page 22 of our Do What Matters Report.
1. Comments made by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, November 2022 Chancellor must put cost of living crisis and domestic abuse at the top of his agenda – lives depend on it - Domestic Abuse Commissioner
2. Data from Surviving Economic Abuse’s Financial Support Line with Money Advice Plus
3. Data from Women’s Aid’s August 2022 Cost of Living survey The cost of living - Women’s Aid (womensaid.org.uk)
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.