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Women's Refuges Will Be Exempt From Benefits Cuts, Theresa May Signals

The prime minister was warned by Jeremy Corbyn that two-thirds of refuges could soon close because of the benefits cap.

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Theresa May has signalled that women's refuges will be exempted from the government's planned benefits cuts, after warnings that two-thirds could be forced to close down.

The prime minister was pressed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the issue after the charity Women's Aid found that 67% of its affiliated refuges in England would have to shut their doors if the changes came into force.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Corbyn said this would be "devastating" and "very dangerous" for the most vulnerable women in society.

The government is planning to cap housing benefit in the social sector at the same rates paid to private landlords.

The move has been delayed for a year following an outcry over the impact on tenants in supported housing – but charities warn that the uncertainty is still affecting the ability of women's refuges to plan for the future.

Corbyn asked May: "Would she take action to make sure that the cap does not apply to Women's Aid refuges in any part of Britain?"

The prime minister replied: "On the issue of domestic violence, we should across this house be doing all we can to stop these terrible crimes taking place and provide support to the victims and survivors of this crime.

"That's why we are working on exempting refuges from the cap in relation to what you speak about."

A Number 10 spokesman said the outcome of a review into the effects of the policy on supported accommodation would be announced "shortly".

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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