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Outcry at betrayal of domestic violence victims

Spending falls by one-third as a result of Coalition cuts

Women's lives are being put at risk as the spending squeeze cuts deep into the help offered to victims of domestic violence, campaigners warned last night.

Refuges for women suffering physical and mental abuse from partners are closing and specialist counsellors are losing their jobs following a 31 per cent cut in their funding.

Requests under the Freedom of Information Act have discovered that funding from local authorities to organisations working with domestic-violence and sexual-abuse victims fell from £7.8m in 2010-11 to £5.4m in the current financial year. The cuts come despite a severe shortage of refuge places and official estimates of almost 400,000 incidents of domestic violence in the year 2010-11. The figures will prove embarrassing to ministers as they attempt to rebut accusations that their policies are penalising women. David Cameron has urged advisers to pursue female-friendly policies after a leaked Downing Street document warned that the Government was "seen as having hit women, or their interests, disproportionately".

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