Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 13th November 2012.

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Photo of Julie Hilling Julie Hilling Labour, Bolton West 11:30 am, 13th November 2012

What progress he has made on reform of the criminal injuries compensation scheme.

Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

What progress he has made on reform of the criminal injuries compensation scheme.

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

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.

Photo of Julie Hilling Julie Hilling Labour, Bolton West

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?

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

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.

Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

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?

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

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.

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Conservative, Enfield, Southgate

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?

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

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.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea DUP, South Antrim

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?

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

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

Photo of Rob Flello Rob Flello Shadow Minister (Justice)

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?

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

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.