A NEW pilot scheme will offer the victims of domestic abuse up to £1000 to escape their relationships, the First Minister has announced.

Ahead of his first SNP conference speech as leader, Humza Yousaf announced the Fund to Leave – which will send £500,000 to Women’s Aid organisations in five council areas, with the formal announcement due when he speaks on Tuesday.

Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and Fife will all benefit from the scheme initially, with its effectiveness to be assessed.

The cash can be used to buy essentials needed for a victim to be able to leave their abusive partner.

The Scottish Government has said that nearly a quarter of homelessness presentations among women in Scotland were due to abuse.

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“Both tackling homelessness and ending violence against women and girls are key priorities for the Scottish Government,” the First Minister said.

“People should feel safe in their own homes but, sadly, too often this is not the case.

“Leaving a relationship with an abusive partner is dangerous and difficult, and financial dependence on the abuser is often the biggest barrier.

“The Fund to Leave will help to reduce the financial burden of leaving an abusive partner by helping to pay for the essentials that women and children need, including rent and clothing.

“This is just one of the ways in which we can work towards a Scotland where women and girls live free from violence and abuse in their homes.”

Marsha Scott, the chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “Survivors have told us for decades that the biggest problems they face in extricating themselves from abusers is the danger of retaliation, their lack of financial independence and the fear of destitution.

“Whether survivors and their children can stay in their homes or need or want to move to other accommodation, paying the rent and putting food on the table are still a struggle.

“After years of advocating for speedy, accessible, and practical help for leaving, we are utterly delighted to welcome this fund and to help with getting it out to those who need it as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Anyone who feels impacted by any of the issues discussed here can contact Women's Aid on 0800 027 1234.