Report comes as a formal response to an independent strategic review.
Rape crisis centres and charity figures have published a formal response to a review which made several welcome recommendations for the funding of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) services.
Rape Crisis Scotland and 16 member Rape Crisis Centres across Scotland have have shared their formal response to the Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Services in Scotland.
The strategic review, published in June of this year, made several welcome recommendations for the funding of VAWG services.
These include implementing a legal right to access of VAWG services, which would mean that such services are no longer dependent on short-term, precarious funding.
However, the charities said they have serious concerns over the review’s potential unintended negative consequences for Rape Crisis Centres in Scotland.
Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “We wholeheartedly agree with the review’s recommendation for long term guaranteed funding to be available to Rape Crisis services. We do however have real concerns about how the review recommends this funding be delivered.
“Local authorities across Scotland are under real financial strain. It is difficult to envision Rape Crisis Centres being properly funded for the long term by individual local authorities. This could also mean that provision of lifesaving support services is very inconsistent across Scotland. When survivors reach out for support, they need to receive it, no matter where in Scotland they live.
“We are also very worried by the review’s recommendation for there to be a single VAWG helpline. Our helpline provides highly specialist sexual violence support for anyone aged 13+. Survivors tell us how much they value accessing a specialist service. This specialism must be protected.
“We hope our concerns, and those of 16 of our member centres, will be heard. The only way to protect Rape Crisis services is to ring fence sufficient funding for them.”
The review recommends introducing a commissioning model for Rape Crisis services for the first time. This would mean that local authorities would commission providers of Rape Crisis support to meet their statutory obligation to provide such services.
The groups are very concerned that such a model would lead to further funding strains for Rape Crisis Centres.
Many charitable funders, which Rape Crisis Centres currently rely on, do not provide funding where there is a statutory duty for the service to be provided. For one centre, this would mean losing 30% of their current funding.
Unless significant additional funding was made available from national or local government, Rape Crisis Centres say they would have less funding under the proposed new arrangements and would be forced to cut services even further.
Local authorities are already under very high financial pressures which vary from area to area. Before the introduction of national funding for Rape Crisis, levels of funding varied hugely across Scotland.
The Rape Crisis Centre in Aberdeen only received £5,000 per annum from the local authority for example.
Charities are deeply concerned that a move away from national funding could lead to a postcode lottery of the level of provision of services across the country, warning that this “simply isn’t good enough for survivors”.
The funding review also recommends a move to a single VAWG helpline which would merge our sexual violence helpline with Scotland’s domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline, with charities warning that removing access to a highly specialist helpline for sexual violence would be a damaging move.
This decision would also leave male survivors of sexual violence in Scotland with no specialist support line.
Although there are significant capacity issues within Rape Crisis services across Scotland, today many, many more survivors of sexual violence have access to the lifesaving support that Rape Crisis provides, thanks in large part to protected national funding.
Rape Crisis Scotland has grave concerns about the potential for a move to localised funding under a commissioning model to worsen the situation for sexual violence survivors in Scotland, calling for ring fenced funding specifically for these services.
Jan Swan, CEO of Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre, said: "It’s great that this review has identified a number of positive developments that could ensure that high quality services are adequately funded and available where survivors of sexual violence need them.
“But we need to see a lot of clarification around many challenging issues, and potential unintended consequences that could arise from some of the recommendations made.”