On 23 October 2018, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced that the Scottish Government accepts the main recommendations from the InterAction Action Plan Review Group on the issue of financial redress/compensation for victims/survivors of abuse in care in Scotland.
Thank you to all the victims/survivors who made contact to share their views and who took part in the consultation. The thorough, thoughtful and detailed responses that you provided are what made the consultation reports possible.
Working in partnership with the InterAction Action Plan Review Group, we held a consultation regarding a potential financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of historical abuse in care in Scotland, who meet the Terms of Reference for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. We did this on behalf of Scottish Government and, on 5 September 2018, the Review Group submitted a series of four reports with a set of recommendations for them to consider in their decision whether to take forward a scheme in Scotland.
The consultation was structured around the following themes, that were informed by drawing on how schemes are structured elsewhere, and then further developed by the Review Group and survivors who were involved in our early design sessions:
The key focus was a national consultation with victims/survivors. This was open from 4 September 2017 – 17 November 2017. We received 181 responses to the consultation. From the outset, it included victim/survivor representation and used a collaborative approach to the development of the actual process of the consultation and engagement activity, as well as to questionnaire design.
In addition, a review was undertaken of available information on 10 selected financial compensation/redress schemes for victims/survivors of abuse in care that have been implemented around the world. Engagement work was also carried out with residential and foster child care providers and other professional groups. This was intended to gather initial high level views, providing initial insight and a helpful starting point for the Scottish Government should they decide to proceed.
The Review Group’s recommendations were informed by drawing on key messages from the consultation with victims/survivors and with reference to the international evidence, the engagement with residential and foster care providers and other professional groups as well as the work to date in Scotland in relation to the Action Plan on Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse of Children in Care.
In summary, the Review Group recommends that the Scottish Government commits to establishing a financial compensation/redress scheme, and agrees to introduce an advanced payment scheme (for ill and elderly survivors) as soon as possible. It is recommended that discussions take place with the Review Group as to how the next steps on detailed scheme design are conducted, including how others will be involved in that process. Furthermore, it is proposed that the other recommendations and key messages drawn from the consultation with victims/survivors and other engagement activities should be taken into account as part of the detailed scheme design. This includes how those responsible can contribute. Finally, that legislation for a statutory financial compensation/redress scheme should be passed before the end of this parliamentary term in March 2021.
The InterAction Action Plan Review Group presented the Deputy First Minister with the following reports in September 2018:
Recommendation - A financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care should be established.
Almost all (99 per cent) of victims/survivors who answered this question considered that a financial compensation/redress scheme should be established. The SHRC Framework highlighted that the state has a duty to ensure effective remedies for violations of human rights and this includes the need for a financial compensation mechanism that is open to all victims/survivors of abuse in care. This is not currently being provided in Scotland.
Recommendation – Approval of a financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care should take place as soon as possible following detailed scheme design.
The Review Group urges the Scottish Government to approve a financial compensation/redress scheme for victims/survivors of abuse in care as soon as possible, following detailed scheme design, and for legislation to be passed by the end of this parliamentary term, March 2021.
Recommendation - The preferred approach to financial compensation/redress is a combination payment.
The majority of victims/survivors who answered this question felt that the preferred approach is a combination payment which involves a flat-rate standard payment along with an individual experience payment which takes account of a range of factors such as: the nature of abuse; the severity of abuse; the period of abuse; and the life-long consequences of the abuse. The operational design and detail will need further consideration.
Recommendation - Next-of-kin of deceased victims/survivors of historic abuse should be eligible to apply to a scheme.
The majority of victims/survivors who answered this question indicate support that the next-of-kin of deceased victims/survivors should be eligible for compensation/redress. However, there were a number of cautions about the eligibility of next-of-kin, in terms of the definition of next-of-kin, personal relationships with the deceased victims/survivors while they were living, and practical operational issues. These matters require further consideration.
Recommendation – There should be arrangements for interim payments which would allow priority groups of victims/survivors to access payments prior to full payment.
It was considered by the majority of victims/survivors who answered this question that it is important for priority groups of victims/survivors to access interim payments. There was a range of views regarding the criteria for these payments, in general, age and health factors were highlighted as priorities. Such interim payments should be considered in the context of further discussions about ‘advanced payments’ (see below).
Recommendation - A range of written and verbal information, where available, should be used to assess individual applications.
Victims/survivors who answered this question considered that, where available, a range of written and verbal information should be used to assess applications, and this included: information about placement details; nature and severity of abuse experienced; information on impact of the abuse; testimony from a third party; police records of alleged or convicted perpetrators of abuse; previous or ongoing civil/criminal action; and, material prepared for another purpose. Challenges in the availability and securing of information, the impact on individuals through the process and the importance of choice were also noted.
Recommendation – A range of support and guidance should be put in place for applicants to assist them through the process of the scheme.
Most victims/survivors who answered this question outlined a number of potential different types of supports to meet a range of individual and different needs at each stage through the application and payment process. These included: practical support, emotional support, financial advice, legal advice and advocacy.
Recommendation - Victims/survivors should be represented in the administration and governance of a full financial compensation/redress scheme.
The value and insight offered by victim/survivor representation was highlighted by the consultation participants. Similar to the types of support, victims/survivors suggested a broad range of ways by which victim/survivors could be represented, either through the development and administration of the scheme or the individual application process. These views accord with a human rights based approach where participation is a recognised key component. Representation and participation should be significant and meaningful, involving appropriate information available in accessible formats, and the provision of necessary support and guidance.
Recommendation - A range of knowledge and understanding should be represented in any panel or board which will have a decision making role in the scheme.
Victims/survivors who answered this question noted a number of suggested professional backgrounds and specified services, and highlighted the value of lived experience. Key areas of knowledge and understanding included: advocacy, finance, health, human rights law, social care, and trauma.
Recommendation - All those responsible should contribute to a financial compensation/redress scheme.
Victims/survivors who answered this question consider that all those responsible should contribute, including: Scottish Government, residential and foster care providers, local authorities which placed children in care and those which provided care placements, and religious bodies responsible for care services. The SHRC Framework also makes clear that institutions should contribute to reparation packages in a manner proportionate to the extent to which they are accountable.
Recommendation - Scheme design should take account of a number of key principles to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of a scheme.
Victims/survivors who answered this question noted that the scheme will need to address important principles of choice, fairness, respect, integrity and individual experience, needs and wishes. The integrity of the scheme is crucial and it must be robust and credible; the evidence required, and the scrutiny of it, must create a balance which will deter fraudulent claims, without putting off applicants or refusing genuine applications because of lack of evidence.
Recommendation - It is essential that any potential negative consequences are considered during scheme design.
The risk of any negative consequences for individual victims/survivors was highlighted by consultation participants. It is important to consider how these could be prevented and where this not possible, mitigated. This would include considering how any payment may impact on personal vulnerabilities as well as benefits, pension, or any previous payments such as criminal injuries compensation payments.
Recommendation – The Scottish Government should discuss next steps with the Review Group and other victims/survivors, particularly the process to take forward detailed scheme design and implementation.
The consultation with victims/survivors identified a number of issues where there was a high level of consensus, as well as areas where views were more mixed. There were a number of matters which will require further work to ensure any implemented scheme is appropriate to Scotland and Scotland’s victims/survivors of historic abuse in care. These should be taken forward in discussion with the Review Group and other victims/survivors.
Alongside the consultation and consideration of ‘interim payments’, specific discussions took place concerning the status of pre-1964 victims/survivors and all the following recommendation was made in regard to an advance payment scheme.
Recommendation – An ‘advanced payment scheme’ for the elderly and ill should be progressed as soon as possible and before the main financial compensation/redress scheme is established in statute.
It was agreed in this recommendation, published on 6 September 2018, that the Review Group would, at a later date, forward on information to the Deputy First Minister in relation to advance payments for the elderly and ill. That detail is now outlined in a letter sent to the Deputy First Minister on 2 October 2018.
On 17 November 2016, the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, acknowledged that, while elements of reparation were in place in Scotland, it was time to explore the specific matter of financial compensation/redress for abuse in care in Scotland, and announced that there should be a process of consultation and engagement.
In January 2017, CELCIS was commissioned by the Scottish Government to work in partnership with the SHRC InterAction Action Plan Review Group and to take forward a consultation and engagement exercise on a potential financial compensation/redress scheme for individuals who experienced abuse in care in Scotland, as defined by the terms of reference of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI).
The InterAction Action Plan Review Group is a national stakeholder group. It includes representation from survivors, survivor support organisations, residential child care service providers, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the Scottish Government, CELCIS, Educating through care Scotland (EtCS) and Social Work Scotland. The Group monitors the implementation of the Action Plan on Justice for victims of historic abuse of children in care.
CELCIS has worked alongside a number of partners, including survivors and survivor organisations in this area for many years. This work has included involvement in key activities such as the InterAction process that led to the development of the SHRC Action Plan on Justice for Victims of Historic Child Abuse, the consultation on the Public Inquiry into Historical Child Abuse in Scotland and other Scottish Government Commitments to survivors of historical child abuse in care.
Redress is to set right or remedy, a wrong or harm. Redress and remedy in the context of historical abuse can take a range of forms such as apology, provision of services such as counselling or health services, or a monetary/financial payment.
Reparation is to make amends for a wrong one has done, by providing payment or other assistance to those who have been wronged.
Monetary or financial redress Monetary or financial redress is a payment under redress that provides a tangible recognition of the seriousness of the hurt and injury suffered by a survivor. To avoid any confusion, the term financial redress is the term agreed by the Scottish Government and is described as “a tangible recognition of the harm done” (Deputy First Minister, Statement to Scottish Parliament, February 2017).
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney sent letters to the Education and Skills Committee at Scottish Parliament to update them on progress so far on the financial redress consultation and engagement.
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