On Monday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced that the Government would be introducing a redress scheme for survivors of historic abuse. She described this as a ‘landmark day’ and follows the report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
I was in London in October of 2022, for the release of this report.
Recommendation 19 stated:
‘The enquiry recommends that the UK Government establishes a single redress scheme in England and Wales, taking into account devolved responsibilities.’
As solicitors specialising in claims for victims of abuse, this redress scheme is obviously of significant interest. We have been dealing with the CICA claims for three decades and it would be interesting to see how the proposed redress scheme fits alongside the existing CICA scheme.
IICSA’s recommendation was that the schemes run alongside each other. Any previous award from any payment under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority would have to be repaid. Applicants who have previously brought civil claims would be ineligible, unless they had been rejected due to limitation.
It seems as though the scheme will mirror the CICA in that there will be tariffs. The suggestion of the IICSA, was that there would be a two-tier system based on a flat rate recognition payment with the option to apply for a second-tier payment.
If the intention was that the application process would be accessible, straight forward, and sensitive to the needs and vulnerabilities of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. The process was not intended to be adversarial. There will be special provisions to accelerate awards for older or terminally ill applicants.
In theory, this is all laudable. In practice I fear that this may not add anything to what we already have.
The CICA scheme is difficult. Applicants have many hurdles put in their way and we repeatedly find that the CICA reject claims wrongly or put forward offers that are not reflective of the evidence.
I am regularly appearing before the first-tier tribunal on appeals. Within the last month, we have won four separate appeals. In one case, obtaining an increase in damages for the applicant from an initial offer of £22,000, to an award of over £220,000.
The same problems that blight the CICA scheme, are likely to impact on the redress scheme.
How does an applicant prove that he or she was abused?
Will there need to be a report to the police? One of the biggest difficulties in dealing with CICA claims is obtaining evidence from the police, in relation to reporting and cooperation.
What evidence would be needed as to the extent of the abuse?
Will the two-tier award system reflect the severity of the abuse itself, or the impact that it has had on the applicant?
Will the system be fair?
The extent of the abuse does not necessarily correlate with the impact it has upon the applicant. Some applicants suffer lifelong psychiatric problems as a result of abuse which, under the CICA scheme, would not attract a significant tariff for the nature of the abuse suffered. Other applicants can suffer terrible abuse over a number of years, yet not go on to develop the same psychiatric problems.
Will there be any provision for abuse which is not of a sexual nature?
Much of the work I do, is for children who suffer terrible neglect and physical abuse; often due to failing by the Local Authority. Is it fair that a child suffers terrible physical abuse and neglect and is not compensated but if there is a sexual element to the abuse, the child will fall within the redress scheme?
Funding also needs to be considered. The vast majority of solicitors dealing with CICA claims tend to charge a fixed percentage of recovered damages. The Scottish redress scheme has different provisions in relation to cost. Careful consideration will need to be given as to how costs of dealing with these applications are dealt with if a victim wants to use a representative to help with the process.
IICSA proposed a five-year duration for the scheme. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next five years and whether the scheme will supplement the avenues victims already have, to obtain compensation in the Civil Court and through the CICA.
We will be monitoring the situation closely and will be available to discuss individual circumstances in confidence. To speak to an abuse claims specialist please call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430, contact us by email, or use the online chat below.