I am today announcing the implementation of a hardship fund of £500,000 per year which will provide relief from hardship for very low-paid workers in England and Wales who are temporarily unable to work as a result of being a victim of a crime of violence.
Victims of violent crime endure both physical and emotional suffering and, in some cases, financial hardship due to being unable to work as a result of their injuries. The Government believe it is right to focus criminal injuries compensation on victims of more serious crime and that for victims with less serious injuries, prompt practical and emotional support is a more suitable response than relatively small amounts of compensation.
That is why the revised criminal injuries compensation scheme 2012, which also comes into force today along with the victims of overseas terrorism compensation scheme 2012, focuses on those most seriously affected by crime. For those with minor injuries, we believe that prompt good-quality services are a better response than small compensation payments.
However in some cases, even the less serious injuries result in the victim being unable to work for a temporary period and therefore require financial support. Some victims receive financial support from employers through statutory sick pay (SSP) or an equivalent employer-provided scheme. In other cases, particularly where the victim is in low-paid employment, no financial support may be available for this temporary period.
The Government believe that this latter group of victims should be given some financial support, at the same rate as SSP, over a short period to relieve them of the immediate hardship that arises from their being temporarily unable to work and that is why we have set up a hardship fund for these victims.
The eligibility criteria for the hardship fund are as follows:
That the applicant is a victim of a crime of violence, but the applicant’s injury is not one which is eligible for compensation under the criminal injuries compensation scheme 2012;
That the applicant is in very low-paid employment and is temporarily unable to work;
That the applicant is not eligible for SSP or an equivalent employer-provided scheme;
That the crime has been reported to the police as soon as is reasonably practicable and the application has been received within four weeks of the date of the incident;
That the applicant does not have an unspent criminal conviction which under the criminal injuries compensation scheme 2012 would bar them from an award.
The fund will be administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority following referral based on an initial assessment of eligibility by Victim Support. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority will request confirmation from the police to ensure that the applicant does not have any criminal convictions that would bar them from an award. Once the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority has received all the relevant documentation they will aim to process applications within six working days.
Copies of the hardship fund policy paper, impact assessment and equality impact assessment have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Further guidance on the operation of the hardship fund is available on the Ministry of Justice website.
The revised “Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012” is also available online at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/victims-and-witnesses/cica.
“The Victims of Overseas Terrorism Compensation Scheme 2012” is available online at: http://www. justice.gov.uk/victims-and-witnesses/cica/victims-of-overseas-terrorism.