09 December 2022

TSB launches ‘Emergency Flee Fund’ for domestic abuse victims, as Hestia reports rising demand for help

  • TSB bolsters support for domestic abuse victims by introducing an ‘Emergency Flee Fund' with support payments of £50 to £500
  • TSB becomes the first organisation to offer Safe Spaces initiative in branches and online
  • “Cost of living crisis is rapidly becoming a national emergency for domestic abuse victims”, says Domestic Abuse Commissioner
  • TSB pilot with Women’s Aid to help victims gain financial freedom by safely opening a bank account – without standard documentation
  • Domestic Violence Charity, Hestia reports 158% rise in people using an Online Safe Space, with 178,000 users in October, compared to the average of 70,000 per month1
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 months2.’
 
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%)3 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 found4 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 standard 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 colleagues are ready to assist victims within their communities – and we would encourage any impacted TSB customers needing support to come and speak to us.”
 
 
Advice from Hestia:
What to do if you’re a victim of domestic abuse.
  • Seek support. Call 999 if you are in immediate danger.
  • If you don’t have access to a phone and can leave the house, go to your nearest physical safe space.
  • If you have access to the internet there are also online safe spaces where you can find useful information on other services, alongside being able to locate physical safe spaces.
  • You can use the safe space in whatever way you need, it offers a discreet space for calling family/friends and other support services such as the Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247)
  • If you and your children need a place of refuge, you can call Hestia’s Referral Line on 0808 169 9975 to find a space.
 
How to spot domestic abuse within your community / common signs:
  • Changes in behaviour can often be an indicator, the person may appear more worried, distant, or anxious than usual.
  • They may be verbally abused: shouting; mocking; accusing; name calling; verbally threatening.
  • They may be less likely to attend social events if they are being controlled by someone, and when socialising they may seem reclusive, on edge or constantly checking their phone.
  • They may have physical marks or bruising, burns or bite marks on their body.
  • If in a work environment, look out for changes in work schedule, their performance, and the number of sick days they may have taken.
  • It’s worth remembering that each experience of domestic abuse is different, and for that reason the signs can often differ.
 

Notes to editors

1 Hestia data on the number of times Online Safe Spaces was used in October, compared to the normal monthly average.
2 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
3 Data from Surviving Economic Abuse’s Financial Support Line with Money Advice Plus
4 Data from Women’s Aid’s August 2022 Cost of Living survey The cost of living - Women’s Aid (womensaid.org.uk) 
 
Safe Spaces
 
Launched in May 2021, all TSB branch colleagues received specialist training to increase their confidence in responding to disclosures of domestic abuse and provides victims with access to the Safe Space in their branch. Read more about Hestia and Safe Spaces, here: UK Says No More's Safe Spaces and Online Safe Spaces (hestia.org)
 
 
Financial abuse code of practice
 
Alongside the new initiatives, TSB is an original signatory to the UK Finance financial abuse code of practice. TSB helps any customers experiencing domestic or financial abuse to:
  • Open an account in their sole name
  • Change the address so correspondence goes somewhere safe
  • Discuss how to protect or review any joint accounts they may have with an abuser
  • Discuss the types of important documents that may be needed for opening new accounts or services
  • Refer to third party charities for guidance and support
For more information on how TSB is supporting victims of domestic and financial abuse, please visit: https://www.tsb.co.uk/supporting-you-domestic-or-financial-abuse/
 
Do What Matters report:
Read more about our campaign to support victims of domestic abuse with our strategy of: Intervening Early. Crisis Support. Building Towards a Future, in our Do What Matters Report (p22).
 
The information contained in this press release is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.