Amber Rudd announces Universal Credit shake-up to help women domestic abuse victims

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has announced a shake-up to the Universal Credit system designed to help victims of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is often more than just physical with perpetrators frequently taking control of their victim's finances in order to further curb their freedom.

Amber Rudd at the Advance Charity offices in West London where she discussed support for victims of domestic violence. Credit: PA

Ms Rudd has promised to change Universal Credits so payments go to the primary carer, making it more likely that women - who are proportionally far more likely to be victims of domestic abuse - have control over their finances.

ITV News spoke to Christina (not her real name) who escaped from a violent partner after 20 years of abuse that included having an iron thrown in her face, being pinned down and strangled.

'Christina' talking to ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand. Credit: ITV News

In the final few years, her partner also controlled the family finances, forcing Christina to wait outside supermarkets for the end of day discounts just so she could feed her children.

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Rudd admitted that the current system did not always work for women like Christina, but insisted Universal Credit was a "modern, intelligent system".

"What I've been doing is continually upgrading it," she said. "And the announcements I'm making today are exactly that. Making women safer, making the journey swifter, and making it more sympathetic".

Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd speaking to ITV News. Credit: ITV News

But in reality the government's changes will help relatively few.

"It's a step in the right direction, it's better than what was there before for these people, I would say," Margaret Greenwood, shadow work and pensions secretary told ITV News.

As part of overhaul, hundreds of Jobcentre workers are being trained to support victims of domestic abuse.

Margaret Greenwood, shadow work and pensions secretary. Credit: ITV News

The Government announced that by the end of the summer, every Jobcentre in the UK will have a domestic abuse "point of contact".

Around 600 Department for Work and Pensions staff across the UK are currently undergoing specialist training from Women's Aid to help them identify and support the needs of anyone experiencing such abuse.