A FUND worth up to £13 million to help tackle gender-based violence in Scotland has opened to applicants after a 10-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The money will go towards challenging outdated stereotypes of violence against women and girls, staging early interventions and holding perpetrators to account. The Delivering Equally Safe Fund was originally due to open in February this year but was paused due to the onset of the pandemic.

Supporting disabled survivors and working with those in remote communities will be prioritised in the latest Scottish Government funding.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: “The shocking and unacceptable rise in domestic abuse over the course of the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that we still have further to go in our ambition to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

“We have responded quickly to ensure that frontline services could adapt and continue to help people during this public health crisis, providing more than £5.5m in additional funding.”

She added: “We have been strengthening the law for domestic abuse and sexual violence survivors, and those at risk of female genital mutilation, supporting services to redesign at pace during the Covid-19 pandemic to raise awareness and encourage victims to seek support.

“This new fund will build upon and strengthen our efforts in partnership with experts and local frontline providers.

“It will help us to make a step change over the next three years in preventing and reducing all forms of violence against women and girls.”

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “As always, we are glad to see the Scottish Government working to support organisations who can deliver specialist interventions around gender-based violence and to see funding distributed that reflects national policy.

“Now more than ever, specialist domestic abuse services are facing difficult decisions about how to maintain and deliver their vital services in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.”