REFUGES for victims of domestic abuse are facing a crisis point due to funding cuts, campaigners and politicians have said.

It comes as specialist safe houses in the region are set to lose expert staff because of the financial pressure.

Julie Cooper, Burnley’s prospective Labour parliamentary candidate, who also sits on the board at the town’s refuge, said the facility was always full with women and their families.

She said: “We have got a massive demand. We are always full and there is never a vacancy.

“I know first hand how much they are struggling. Some of the funding they get is from Lancashire County Council and Burnley Council pays for two spec- ialist workers. Funding has been severely cut to Burnley and it is going to mean the loss of those staff.”

She said the scenario was similar across East Lancashire.

Rachel Horman, a director at Watson Ramsbottom Solicitors, which has offices in Blackburn, Darwen, Great Harwood and Accrington, said the services were reaching ‘breaking point’.The 41-year-old, from Burnley, said: “I am involved with a couple of refuges and their management and I am aware that over the last 12 months in particular there have been so many funding cuts.

“It is just unbelievable.

“The refuges are always full and they could fill them twice over. It is going to start affecting the quality of the services because a lot of posts are being cut.

“I can see some services shutting, it is getting that bad.

“But the cuts are not actually cost effective because if you offer a bad service, it will cost the local authority more in terms of policing, social services, more court costs, and accident and emergency cases.”

Helmshore solicitor Kate Allsop, who specialises in domestic abuse at Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors, which has offices across East Lancs, added: “It is becoming increasingly harder for women to access refuges. I am aware that support services have been struggling to locate refuge places for their clients as they come under more pressure.”