The government is presently evaluating plans to cut compensation for those who sustain injuries, which may even include children of victims of murder, in spite of escalating opposition from the governing party’s ranks.
Ministers are suggesting cutting 25% from the £200m which is awarded each year by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. This suggestion has led to strong criticism from Tory MPs, which includes John Redwood, solicitors and trade unions.
The government is making the claim that the present scheme is far too bureaucratic and means many people have to wait several years for compensation. As well as this revelation there have been suggestions that the current scheme has been used by claimants who do not deserve compensation.
The government’s assessment suggest that nearly fifty percent of victims who are presently eligible for compensation payments which includes those assaulted by dogs – would not receive anything if the current suggested reforms are accepted. Also, payments would be reduced by around 60 percent for those victims who endure serious injuries. The Communication Workers Union, which acts as the representative for postal workers, stated that every year one thousand of its membership gets around £500 to £1,000 from the current scheme after they have been attacked by dogs that belong to owners who act irresponsibly.
The shop workers’ union, USDAW, indicated that the reforms would reduce payments to those victims who are seriously injured by, capping compensation for reduction in earnings at a level of £4,500 a year. John Hannett, Usdaw’s general secretary, highlighted the case of a shoplifter attacking a shop worker who sustained injuries that caused the blurring of vision and an increase in stress levels which meant she had to take a few weeks off work.
Usdaw was successful in securing £2,000 for the woman from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. However, under the new guidelines she would get nothing at all.
What is actually being proposed will mean employees would only be entitled to get statutory sick pay which is barely £85 per week.
The proposed scheme will also decrease compensation for possible loss in earnings. Mark Miller, at just 27 years old, endured a brain injury after an unprovoked attack in 2008. The current scheme gained for him £246,000 and £190,000 of it was for loss of likely earnings as he was unable to finish his degree and has limited work opportunities. Under the suggested proposals, his solicitor indicated he would only receive about £80,000 for any loss in earnings, which is a reduction of almost 70 percent.
A new set of conditions would also be applicable to any awards to the children or spouses of manslaughter and murder victims, who would cease their entitlements to claim a large proportion of their deceased spouse’s or parent’s salary.
When these suggested reforms were put before an appointed parliamentary committee in September they MPs showed their opposition from all parties which is the first time in fifty years the delegated legislation committee had sought a government retreat.
Even influential Tory MP John Redwood said that he always likes to see government spending reduced but not so that those who are disabled, poor or vulnerable will be affected.
The government has been given until 22 October to provide confirmation of its intentions.
A spokesperson for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said the current reforms would, without doubt, hit children, the most vulnerable and the disabled the greatest.