Coalition MPs pass by on the other side and abandon victims of violent crime

Date: 08 November 2012 Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs have voted to support proposed cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme that will slash or axe altogether the financial support given to nearly 90% of the victims of violent crime.

Given the opportunity last night to debate and oppose the cuts by a Labour call for the Government to reconsider, Coalition MPs voted to ensure Labour's motion was defeated by 289 votes to 209. Despite the motion's heavy defeat, only a handful of Conservative MPs spoke in favour of the cuts.

Last night's debate was the first and likely final time the Government's proposed cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme will be debated by all MPs. The cuts are being implemented via a Statutory Instrument (SI), which is generally only used for non-contentious issues. The SI was approved 9 votes to 7 by a Parliamentary Committee last week, despite the failure of a previous attempt following objections from Conservative back benchers. Usdaw and other campaigners against the changes accused the Government of stacking the Committee with its payroll vote to ensure the cuts were approved second time around.

The SI still needs to be formally laid before Parliament before it is enacted. If an objection is raised at this point, MPs will get another opportunity to vote on the cuts, but there is no provision for any further debate. The SI could be laid before Parliament with MPs getting just a few hours notice.

Responding to the vote, John Hannett, General Secretary of the shopworkers Union Usdaw said:

"Last night, Coalition MPs made the decision to pass by on the other side and abandon innocent victims of violent crime. As a result, the Government's appalling record of making the most vulnerable pay to reduce the deficit is likely to reach a new low with injured crime victims next in line to suffer.

"Despite the vote, barely a handful of Coalition MPs were prepared to speak and publically back the cuts, so there remains some hope that even at this eleventh hour, some will wake up to the injustice of what is being proposed. If not, then I'm convinced the decision to target victims of crime in this way will come back to haunt the Coalition Government and every single MP who supports it.

"Any Government prepared to cut vital financial support from the innocent victims of violent crime, while at the same time handing out tax cuts to millionaires, has surely lost its moral compass."

Notes for Editors:

  1. Coalition MPs voted against the following Labour motion:
    "That this House reaffirms its commitment to the blameless victims of violent criminals who suffer physically, emotionally and financially from the injuries inflicted upon them; recognises that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is the fund of last resort for much needed compensation for these blameless victims and is relied upon by many thousands of victims each year; and calls on the Government to reconsider the changes introduced by the Statutory Instrument narrowly passed by the Delegated Legislation Committee, on the 1st November 2012.
  2. Last night's debate and the record of how MPs voted can be seen at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121107/debtext/121107-0003.htm#12110785000786
  3. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme awards compensation to between 30,000 and 40,000 people each year who are seriously injured following a crime of violence. The scheme is rigidly policed and can only make awards to victims who cannot obtain recompense from any other source, such as their assailant.
  4. The cuts will mean that victims of violent crime who suffer injuries such as permanent speech impairment, multiple broken ribs, post traumatic epileptic fits or burns and scarring that cause minor facial disfigurement, will no longer be eligible for any compensation. Victims who suffer injuries such as significant facial scarring, punctured or collapsed lungs, permanent brain injury resulting in impaired balance and headaches, fractured joints including elbows, knees and vertebra, resulting in continual significant disability, will have any compensation reduced by up to 60%. New conditions for payments for loss of earnings will limit payments to the level of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), currently just £85 a week. In addition, payments will also be limited to those who are never able to work again, or only in a severely reduced capacity. Compensation for loss of earnings will also be denied to any victims with a broken work record during the previous 3 years
  5. For further information on the cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and Usdaw's campaign against them please visit www.usdaw.org.uk/compensation
  6. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union with over 420,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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