18 October 2023

Flee Funds are 'desperately needed', as Women’s Aid & TSB highlight life-changing impact of scheme

  • New figures from Money Advice Plus and Surviving Economic Abuse show that 90 percent of domestic abuse survivors have either a negative budget or less than £100 at the end of each month, drastically impacting ability to flee abusers

  • TSB data reveals that 136 survivors have accessed its Flee Fund in 10 months since launch

  • Flee Fund offers survivors up to £500 to escape an abusive situation, with £356 provided on average 

  • Women’s Aid says cost-of-living impact on domestic abuse ‘cannot be underestimated’ and flee funds are ‘desperately needed,’ especially as Home Office pilot has now closed

  • This month, TSB extends ‘Flee Fund’ to colleagues and launches new system to make it easier to open a bank account for those impacted by domestic, financial, or economic abuse

New figures1 from Surviving Economic Abuse and Money Advice Plus show that 90 percent of domestic abuse survivors have either a negative budget or less than £100 at the end of each month, as TSB & Women’s Aid highlight the life-changing impact of Flee Funds.

The findings come as TSB reveals that 136 survivors of domestic abuse have used TSB’s Emergency Flee Fund in the 10 months since launch.

In December 2022, TSB answered the calls of Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for an ‘Emergency Flee Fund,’ by introducing its own scheme to provide urgent financial support to help domestic abuse survivors in a moment of crisis escape an abusive situation.

Since introducing the scheme, TSB has seen significant take up, with as many as 26 survivors in a single month. The average sum provided to individuals is £356.

TSB data also shows that over a third (35%) of people who accessed a Flee Fund were escaping their abusive situation with one or more children.

Women’s Aid calls on government Flee Fund

In March this year, the government announced funding for a six-month national flee fund to be allocated and administered by Women’s Aid from their refuges and centres.

Having seen the importance of Flee Funds first-hand, Women’s Aid Chief Executive, Farah Nazeer is calling for the government’s pilot to be extended and made permanent.
 
TSB’s Flee Fund was developed in partnership with Hestia and Surviving Economic Abuse – with all TSB branch colleagues receiving specialist training to spot signs of domestic abuse and to help survivors who present in branch.
 
TSB’s wider domestic abuse measures

New TSB process launched in October makes it easier for customers who’ve been impacted by domestic, financial, or economic abuse (DFEA) to open a bank account – also enabling survivors to access a flee fund in a moment of crisis.

To prevent abuse reaching bank customers, TSB also blocks abusive and threatening terms being sent to payees. Since introducing blocks in March, TSB has blocked over 8,000 abusive references from reaching their targets.

TSB also became the first bank to introduce Safe Spaces within its branch network, and online to help domestic abuse survivors discreetly seek the support services they need.

TSB colleague Flee Fund

TSB is also extending the scheme to colleagues who are impacted by domestic abuse with payments of up to £500. The Colleague Flee Fund provides financial support to assist individuals with the cost of essentials that may be barriers to leaving an abusive relationship: such as accommodation, travel, clothing and toiletries.

To access the fund, colleagues can speak in confidence to their manager or Human Resources, as well as visiting a TSB branch.

Katie Osiadacz, Head of Responsible Business, TSB, said:

“We have seen first-hand the impact our Emergency Flee Fund plays in helping survivors of domestic abuse take urgent action to escape their abusive and dangerous situation.

“Having operated our own Flee Fund for almost a year, it’s clear a unified approach across government, business and charities is needed to ensure survivors can access the emergency support they need.”

Women's Aid chief executive Farah Nazeer said:

"Emergency funds are desperately needed by those seeking to leave their abusers, especially now, given the additional challenges presented by the cost-of-living crisis. Through our work with survivors, we constantly hear about the economic barriers preventing them from fleeing their abusers. Women and their children are often faced with insecurity – they either face homelessness or must rely on the circumstances of family and friends to be able to put them up for short periods of time. Many women are forced to continue living in danger with an abuser who not only poses a real threat to their life, but controls all aspects of it, from paying the rent and buying food, through to their bank account, benefits and ability to work. 

“We welcomed the government’s emergency fund pilot – the cost-of-living crisis is real and its impact on survivors of domestic abuse cannot be underestimated. The fund now needs to be made permanent and to continue covering all survivors of domestic abuse, including those with no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status.

“It is unimaginable to think that survivors and their children could be forced to remain with their abusers because they are unable to provide the standard documentation to open a bank account or due to a shortage of funds. We must do more to ensure that regardless of their geographical location, survivors across the country can access the support they need to gain the financial independence to escape their abusers.”

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, founder and CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse said,

“This latest data from TSB paints a stark picture and shows just how desperately survivors need this flee fund. Victim-survivors of economic abuse already face control and manipulation of their resources at the hands of abusers - existing in a state of economic insecurity.

“The cost-of-living crisis has only made this situation worse. We know via our partnership with Money Advice Plus that increasing numbers of victim-survivors are unable to access £100 by the end of each month. Accessing the funds needed to leave could be the difference between a survivor being able to safely move on and rebuild their life or remaining trapped with an abuser and facing more harm as a result.  

“The impact of TSB’s initiative on the lives of victim-survivors cannot be underestimated and SEA is proud to work alongside them. It is clear that more support is desperately needed, and we back Women’s Aid’s call for the government to provide an emergency fund that all survivors can access – regardless of where they bank.”

- Ends -

Notes to editors

1 Data from the Financial Support Line Casework Service for Victims of Domestic Abuse, run by Money Advice Plus with support from Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA). Data relates to last three month period measured, April – June 2023.

Timeline of Flee Fund:
 
 
 
October 2023: Government’s pilot ends.
 
TSB is a member of the Good Business Charter and was the first Bank to be accredited in recognition of its work through its Do What Matters plan.
 
The information contained in this press release is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.