- Interactive guidance is expected to help employees understand and resolve economic violence
- 95% of women who experience domestic violence are economically abused
- The Minister of Treasury invited experts to give feedback on the guidelines
The interactive guide, which will be available widely later this year, is being rolled out today to HMRC’s 30,000 staff to help them recognize the signs and create a suitable environment for victims to share their experiences. It builds on the government’s economic abuse toolkit released earlier this year.
Minister Atkins was joined by former Love Island contestant and domestic violence campaigner Malin Anderson today to meet staff and survivors of the Advance charity’s West London Women’s Center to mark the announcement.
The minister has asked experts to work with HMRC before distributing them online for free later this year.
By raising awareness among workers in government, business and charities about economic violence, the new interactive tool will play a role in ending violence against women and girls, building stronger communities for future generations.
Victoria Atkins, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said:
The Government has passed the landmark Domestic Abuse Act and I am determined to build on that commitment to help victims.
Economic and financial abuse can be less understood than other forms of domestic violence, which is why organizations share best practices with each other whenever possible.
That’s why I’ve asked HMRC to work with charities and professionals over the winter to produce a publicly available interactive guide that can be used by staff at any organization that deals with customers.
The domestic violence charity estimates that 16% of adults in the UK have experienced economic abuse, when an individual’s ability to acquire, use and maintain economic resources is taken away by another person in a coercive or controlled manner.
Internal guidance has been distributed to HMRC’s 30,000 staff today to help frontline staff identify potential victims of economic abuse when they speak to them on the phone. It helps them understand the different types of economic abuse, as well as what signs and behaviors to look out for.
The aim is for this guide to be a free interactive tool to support businesses and organizations whose staff talk to customers every day, with support from industry, charities and professionals over the summer.
Malin Anderson says:
If we want to end domestic violence once and for all, we all need to work together, so it’s great to see an initiative making a difference by training more people with businesses and charities to give them economic recognition. Abuse.
Minister Atkins will launch the first demo of the interactive guide with representatives from the financial services sector and charities at a roundtable today, where she will hear more about what the sector is doing to tackle economic violence and what more can be done.
Working with stakeholders to develop and fine-tune it, the government wants the interactive guide to reflect the real-world experiences of victims.
Advance CEO Nguse Scordi said:
It is important to understand the behavior of domestic abusers and their persistent attempts to intimidate and control survivors, especially women and children, long after they have left the abusive home. This includes control over economic and financial means such as child support, school fees, bank accounts, credit and access to employment.
Supporting survivors through specialized domestic abuse attorneys in the community and charities like Advance is essential to changing and sometimes saving the lives of those affected by domestic and economic abuse.
The internal guidance issued by HMRC to staff today comes hot on the heels of the Economic Abuse Toolkit, which was launched in January 2023, which aims to help public sector organizations train their staff to spot economic abuse.
A special charity Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA)It was one of the organizations that contributed to the Toolkit, in the last two years the number of users on the website has increased by 150% (April 2021 5200 users. April 2023 13,000 users).
A Maritime survey found that seven out of ten front-line professionals said the number of victims of economic violence coming to their organization for help has increased since the outbreak began. At the end of the initial lockdown, SEA found that one in five women were planning to seek help with welfare benefits.
Combating domestic violence is a government priority and improving the response to economic violence is essential. For the first time in history, economic abuse is now recognized in law as part of the statutory definition of domestic abuse in the Domestic Abuse Act of 2021. Considering the devastating impact this can have on victims’ lives.
Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, Founder of Surviving Economic Violence;
Economic abuse is a subtle and often invisible form of control that traps the victim in their relationship with the abuser and makes them feel like there is no escape. This type of violence can create dependency on the abuser by limiting their economic capacity or instability if the survivor is forced to cover all family expenses. It causes long-term damage, including debt and bad credit, so even when a person is able to leave, these effects can follow them for the rest of their lives, often preventing them from traveling safely.
We know that survivors are more likely to report economic abuse to their banks than to the police.
Frontline workers – whether in the public or private sector – are trained to understand how to use their services to address economic abuse and victims. It is vital that they are given the knowledge and tools to identify signs of economic abuse, develop specialist responses and refer survivors to wider support. The right response can be life changing.
We are delighted to see the Treasury taking this important step to ensure that victims of economic abuse and anyone they can talk to get a good response. We look forward to working together to ensure that this new interactive guide helps organizations respond effectively to an economic crisis.