Protecting against financial abuse

Everyone has the right to financial independence. If your partner is controlling your money or running up debts in your name, it’s financial abuse. But there’s no need to struggle on alone. Here are some of the things you can do and where to go for help and support.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse.

An abusive partner might stop you from having control over your money as a way of trying to exert power over you.

A financially-abusive partner might also be physically violent, but it’s not always the case.

Financial abuse in the home – whether or not it’s accompanied by aggression or physical violence – can leave you feeling isolated, lacking in confidence and trapped.

It can include:

Worried about Universal Credit single payments?

With the introduction of Universal Credit in England, Wales and Scotland, several existing benefits and tax credits are being combined into a single monthly payment.

Couples who live together will make a joint claim for Universal Credit and it will usually be paid into one bank account.

Child Benefit will remain as a separate benefit outside Universal Credit.

When you make your claim you will be asked which bank account you want to have your money paid into.

If you and your partner do not agree on an account for your Universal Credit payments, then the Jobcentre Plus will nominate one.

If you’re worried about your partner controlling all your benefit income and leaving you (and your children) without any cash, you should ask someone at the Jobcentre.

If you can have your Universal Credit paid into your own account or split into separate payments.

That way, you will get money for yourself (and your children) and your partner will get a separate payment.

This is an option for anyone in ‘exceptional circumstances’, for example anyone who is at risk of domestic or financial abuse.

Where you can get advice

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

If you are not in immediate danger, there are a number of organisations that can give you help and advice.

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid can offer help and support if you’re experiencing financial abuse.

Your local Women’s Aid organisation might also be able to recommend a suitable solicitor if you need one.

You can find information on their websites or by calling their helpline.

Men’s Advice Line

Call the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 8010 327. It’s free from landlines and most mobile phones.

It provides emotional support, practical advice and can signpost you to other services for specialist help.

Alternatively, you can visit the Men’s Advice Line website.

How to leave safely

If you want to leave your partner, there are a series of steps you can take to ensure your safety and make sure your finances will be as manageable as possible:

You might be able to get legal aid to help pay the costs of legal advice for taking legal action to protect you and your children.

Look for a solicitor who takes legal aid cases.

Important documents

If you want to separate from your partner, try and gather together important paperwork before you need to leave.

Try to find:

If it’s not possible – or not safe – to take the originals, then try making copies, or write down key information such as account numbers.

But you shouldn’t take information you can’t get access to easily (for example, you shouldn’t access your partner’s computer without their permission).

Where to get cash in an emergency

If you have to leave in a hurry and you have no access to cash, contact your local authority (or the devolved administration in Wales) to see if they can help you with emergency support.

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