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Clause 3 — Regulations about claims procedure

Part of Riot Compensation Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:00 am on 5th February 2016.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 10:00 am, 5th February 2016

At this stage, it is probably best for me to say that we will reflect further before we bring forward with the regulations. The right hon. Gentleman has made some important points on behalf of his constituents. I know from our discussions back in 2011 the direct impact of the issues that he rightly he took up on behalf of his constituents. Other Members also made direct challenges on behalf of their constituents. We will continue to reflect carefully on the issue as we move forward towards drawing up the regulations. That is the right approach and provides us with an opportunity to reflect further on the important and powerful points that have been made.

It is the Government’s position that consequential losses should not be covered by the Bill, particularly bearing in mind the impact on the public purse. We agree that it would be unfair for legislation intended to help those in the greatest need not to provide support to people who have lost their homes, so we support the proposed exception to the prohibition on compensation for consequential losses to permit individuals to recover the additional costs of alternative accommodation following a riot.

As I have said, the best place for dealing with that is in the regulations. I envisage a system that will allow households to claim for additional costs that exceed the amount they would normally pay for rent or mortgage payments. That will include the cost of fees levied by letting agents or landlords for those who need to rent a new home while repairs are carried out, or the cost of reasonable hotel accommodation for those who need only short-term arrangements. It is not intended to be extended out to cover other incidental costs that may be incurred, such as increased commuting expenses.

I hope I have given Members at least a sense of what we envisage the regulations appropriately providing. Any such compensation is obviously additional to any claims for direct loss in relation to the home itself—damage to windows and doors, and related items, for example. In common with provisions dealing with motor vehicles, we intend compensation to be limited to those whose insurance policies do not provide such cover; insurers will not be permitted to subrogate these payments. With the help of the Metropolitan Police Service and the Home Office, we have determined that the cost of such provision should be relatively low—perhaps below £10,000 per claim on average. We will obviously reflect further on that as we move forward with the regulations.

Let me respond to amendment 8. I note that the right hon. Member for Tottenham has indicated that he will not press the amendment on the basis that we agree that moneys received from public or private emergency recovery funds should not be deducted from the amount of right compensation paid out to a claimant. On the issue of charities, which the right hon. Gentleman raised on Second Reading, we remain of the view—the Policing Minister made this clear in the Committee and in a subsequent letter to its Chair—that it is not fair to reduce right compensation settlements to reflect any payment given by charity. I am happy to restate that position today.

As for the proposal to prohibit deductions from riot compensation payments for a claimant who has received money from a public fund for losses that are also covered in the Bill, we have to consider the need to protect the public purse and to protect the taxpayer from making double payments.

I have one further piece of clarification. If a payment from a public fund has been given for a purpose not covered by the Bill, a deduction will not be made. For example, if payments were made for personal injury or to cover a loss of income, which would take us into the sphere of consequential loss, a deduction would not happen. In other words, it will be fine if a payment has been made for a purpose for which the Bill provides through the compensation schemes covered in it, but if payments have been made through schemes designed for other purposes, it will clearly not be appropriate for a deduction to operate. I hope that that clarification is helpful in explaining how we envisage the inter-relationship between compensation schemes under the Bill and other schemes.