BURY Council has backed a campaign to prevent domestic abuse victims from paying a fee to help them flee violence.

Councillors passed a motion agreeing to back the ‘Scrap the Fee’ campaign in an attempt to waive a fee charged to victims in order to obtain a medical letter to prove they have been subjected to abuse.

The prescribed piece of evidence is needed for victim's to qualify for legal aid, which acts as a lifeline for women in Bury fleeing domestic abuse, helping them to protect themselves, their children and secure their financial situation.

The motion calls on the Government to ‘scrap this unfair and unjust charge by bringing this service back under the NHS contract’.

The Labour motion agreed: “Bury Council will support the ‘Scrap the Fee’ campaign,, which was established by Tom Watson MP following a plea from Wythenshawe Safe Spots.

“Resolve to use its strengthened relationship with GPs through Health and Social Care Devolution to work with them to bring to bring about a 'Manchester GPS pledge' to not charge for legal aid evidence letters in cases of domestic abuse.

“Work with the Greater Manchester Mayor to highlight this campaign across all 10 Greater Manchester councils.”

Councillors passed the motion at a meeting of the full council tonight, when Cllr Annette McKay, said she was pleased to present the motion, which applies to both male and female victims.

She said: “Tackling domestic violence and abuse is a key priority for Bury Council.

“For many years, we have had, and continue to have, a zero tolerance approach.

"Bury Council believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to stop domestic violence and abuse and it is our ambition that people treat one another with respect and compassion.

“Yet between April 2014 and March 2015 domestic abuse incidents reported in Bury increased by 35 per cent.

“National statistics have not changed for decades - two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current former partner.

“One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

“Legal Aid is a lifeline for women in the city fleeing domestic abuse.

“Yet due to government changes to the rules for women to qualify for legal aid they now need to provide a prescribed piece of evidence to prove they have been subjected to abuse. One of the accepted forms of evidence is a letter from a GP.

“However, some GPs charge a fee – in some cases as much as £75 – to produce that letter.

“No GP should charge victims of domestic abuse for a letter they need to access legal aid. It’s immoral and it has to stop.”