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Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

Volume 553: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2012

The criminal injuries compensation scheme 2012 was approved by the House yesterday. Having already been approved by the other place, it now has the approval of Parliament and will be implemented by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on 27 November this year.

Given that the scheme will no longer pay out for criminal injuries such as a broken jaw, and that the awards for more serious injuries are not being increased, will the Minister confirm that the spin is just not true and that the changes represent a cut of £50 million for innocent victims?

Absolutely not. The aim is to provide proper compensation for those who have suffered serious criminal injuries. When the injuries are less serious, prompt, practical victim service provision will be provided, which is what victims say that they need. In addition to that, up to £50 million will be provided for victims from the victim surcharge.

In the consultation on the cuts to the criminal injuries compensation scheme, the Ministry of Justice promised to protect payments to the most vulnerable and seriously injured victims of crime. Why, then, will the most severe cuts affecting compensation for loss of earnings fall on more than 1,000 of the most seriously injured victims of crime and on the dependants of murder victims? Have not the innocent victims of crime suffered enough?

We are of course concerned about all victims. The scheme provides some payment in recognition of loss of earnings, but it was never designed to compensate for a full lifetime’s loss of earnings. Eligible applicants will receive a clear, predictable sum that will supplement other amounts that they may receive from other sources, such as state benefits. Our changes to the scheme should also allow victims to receive payments in a much speedier manner.

Do not the changes confirm the important principle that, although the state is not liable for compensating for the criminal actions of others, it has a particular responsibility for the victims of serious crime, to ensure that they do not have to wait months or even years for compensation from an unsustainable scheme?

Yes, I agree completely with my hon. Friend. Our reforms have put the criminal injuries compensation scheme on to a sustainable footing, which will enable future generations of victims to benefit.

Will the Minister tell the House what consultations on the matter of the reform of the criminal injuries compensation scheme were held with the devolved Administrations?

We talked to them as a matter of routine. I will write to the hon. Gentleman with further details.

Having butchered the criminal injuries compensation scheme by £50 million, starving blameless victims of financial redress, will the Minister tell us when we will see the details of the hastily cobbled-together hardship fund? Will she also tell us whether the fund will be topped up when those in hardship exceed the mere 700 or so whom the scheme is likely to cover, instead of the 30,000 who will lose out as a result of these changes?

I am not going to take any lessons from a party that put this country in the most awful financial difficulties—[Interruption.] Absolutely not. The current system is not sustainable or sensible, and it needs to be simplified. As I have already said, the new victim surcharge will raise up to £50 million for victims services.