Friday, 7 September 2012

Victims Compensation at Risk

Open media letter from trade unions and legal experts in Scotland on the UK government's plans to cut victim compensation

MPs will shortly vote on the future operation of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The victims of violent crime can currently apply for compensation as recompense for the injuries they have sustained.  The changes being proposed by the Coalition Government will radically overhaul the scheme and leave many victims of violent crime no longer eligible for compensation.

The changes are driven by the Government’s desire to cut £50 million from the Ministry of Justice’s budget and will affect 83% of the victims of violent crime.

Each year, almost 18,000 victims of crime sustain injuries within the first 5 ‘tariff bands’, qualifying for compensation between £1,000 and £2,000.  These injuries included such things as multiple broken ribs, burns and scarring causing minor facial disfigurement and partial deafness.  The Government plans to scrap bands 1-5 of the existing tariff scheme, leaving the victims of crime who sustain injuries of this type, no longer eligible for compensation.

In addition almost 13,000 victims of serious crime sustain more serious injuries such as a collapsed lung, significant facial scarring or fractured joints. Victims with this type of injury are currently eligible for compensation of up to £8,200.  The Government want these awards to be cut by up to 60%.

Finally, for around 1,000 victims of crime, their injuries mean that they will be off work for more than 28 weeks - these victims have sustained long term and permanent disabling injuries. Whilst they will continue to receive compensation for their injuries, their payments will be significantly reduced by an average of £10,000 each, because instead of receiving compensation for loss of actual earnings, loss of earnings will be calculated at a rate of £85 a week - the same level as Statutory Sick Pay.

We believe that these cuts to Criminal Injuries Compensation are draconian and unnecessary.  Whilst the Coalition Government insists the present scheme is not sustainable - their own impact assessment of the scheme shows a scheme which is stable with costs that have remained constant over the past four years.

All of the organisations listed below have experience of the scheme. We recognise its importance to the victims of crime in providing financial assistance, acknowledging the pain and suffering of the victim and helping to give the victim a sense of closure of a traumatic experience.

We hope your readers will join us in urging MPs to vote against these cuts and help support the victims of violent crime.

Yours faithfully

John Hannett, General Secretary, Usdaw
Paul Brown, Chief Executive, Legal Services Agency
Grahame Smith, General Secretary, STUC
Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary, Unison
Pat Rafferty, Regional Secretary, Unite
Patrick McGuire, Thomspon Solicitors
Michael J Leahy OBE, General Secretary, Community

1 comment:

  1. Michelle9:56 am

    This is too bad. When one is a victim of personal injury at work, they have the right for Compensation Claim and get what they deserve.