Today I have laid before Parliament a public consultation on proposals following a review of the statutory criminal injuries compensation scheme (the scheme).
No amount of compensation can ever make up for the harm and suffering caused to victims and families by violent crime. However, compensation, alongside victims’ services and other practical and emotional support, can help victims of violent crime to start to rebuild their lives.
In 2018, in the first-ever cross-government victims strategy, we made two commitments: to abolish the pre-1979 “same roof rule”, which denied compensation for some victims who lived with their attacker prior to 1979, and to undertake a comprehensive review of the scheme, the last having been undertaken in 2012.
We met the first commitment in June 2019 when an amended 2012 scheme came into force. Victims who have never applied for compensation, perhaps because of the existence of the rule, can now do so. And we have also made provision for victims whose applications had previously been refused under this rule to reapply. I am pleased to announce today that over £10 million has been made available to hundreds of victims who applied under the amended scheme in the period to 5 April 2020. Under the amended scheme, victims can continue to apply up to 13 June 2021.
The review of the scheme has been thorough. We have looked at how the scheme takes account of trends in violent crime and attitudes within society, and we have examined the impact of the scheme’s rules on particular victim groups who might apply for compensation. We have considered carefully the scope of the scheme, eligibility rules, requirements in relation to decision-making, the value and composition of awards, and the affordability and financial sustainability of the scheme.
The review has taken into account recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, and examined topical issues. We have listened to concerns and feedback, and tested criticisms and perceptions. Analysis of a three-year period of caseload data has given us a detailed picture of the operation of the scheme and the impacts of different rules on victims. We have found that for the vast majority of applicants the scheme is working well and as intended, but we recognise there are areas where it may not be serving victims as effectively as it might.
Underlying the proposals in this consultation are key principles that have been woven into the fabric of the scheme and which I believe must be retained: that it is a universal scheme that exists to support all eligible victims of violent crime who have suffered the most serious injuries, and that compensation is an important and public recognition of their suffering.
I want to make it easier for victims to understand and engage with the scheme. We have identified changes that I believe will improve the experience of victims applying to the scheme, by making it simpler and easier to navigate, and more transparent. We are asking for views on proposals including on:
Ways to simplify the tariff of injuries and to update provisions for disabling mental injury;
Reducing burdens in cases where a loved one is lost, by moving to a single bereavement payment for all qualifying relatives and to a flat rate funeral payment;
And removing the remaining “same roof rule” that has applied since 1979.
We are also consulting on the merits of a separate scheme for victims of terrorism, both domestic and international, and for views on legislating to make provision for families bereaved by homicide that occurs outside Great Britain.
The consultation is available in full at: https://consult. justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/criminal-injuries-compensation-scheme-review-2020/.