The Criminal Injuries
Compensation Scheme awards compensation to over 30,000 people each
year who are seriously injured following a crime of violence. The
cuts proposed by the Government in a revised scheme would mean
almost 90% of the victims currently helped would see their
compensation slashed or axed completely.
The revised scheme was due
to come into force on 1 October, but new Justice Minister Helen
Grant was forced to withdraw it on 10 September when it was savaged
in committee by both Tory and Labour MPs.
However, the Ministry of
Justice (MoJ) has now re-listed the Criminal Injuries Compensation
Scheme as legislation to be taken before 22 October. This means the
scheme and any revisions that ministers choose to make, could only
be reconsidered in the week commencing 15 October, when Parliament
returns after the conference season.
The MoJ has also confirmed
that, if the original proposals are adjusted, a further revised
scheme could be rushed through both the House of Lords and a House
of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee in just one day,
allowing little if any opportunity for changes to be scrutinised.
The new compensation scheme would take effect just two weeks after
legislation was passed - by 5 November at the latest.
Speaking just before a vote
was due to be taken on 10 September, Helen Grant said she was
withdrawing the scheme from consideration having "listened very
carefully to what Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have
said" and because of "the importance of the scheme to people whom
we all care about."
In committee, Rob Flello,
Labour Shadow Justice Minister, demolished the Government's case
for the proposed cuts and a number of Conservative MPs also spoke
against them. Most notably, John Redwood MP urged the Government to
"think again" and said "I did not come into Parliament to see these
An MoJ spokesperson
subsequently confirmed the Government was "re-thinking the changes
in light of the comments by MPs", but set alarm bells ringing among
campaigners against the cuts by adding that the Government was
still committed to "reforming the Criminal Injuries Compensation
Scheme to put it on a sustainable financial footing."
The shopworkers' Union Usdaw
has been campaigning hard against the cuts on behalf of the many
retail staff injured every year in robberies and assaults at work.
Commenting on this latest development, John
Hannett, Usdaw's General Secretary said:
"We were very encouraged
when the Government withdrew the revised scheme, particularly in
light of the comments made by Conservative backbenchers, but
unfortunately this now looks less like a rethink and more like a
tactical retreat to avoid losing the vote at committee."
"Despite the Government
continuing to suggest otherwise, the current scheme is already on a
sustainable financial footing and not even the most seriously
affected victims would receive a penny more from the revised
scheme. On the contrary, half of victims would receive nothing in
future and almost 90% will lose out, including those most seriously
injured and the children of murder victims."
"We now fear any amendments
to the revised scheme will be purely cosmetic changes designed to
help Ministers avoid future political embarrassment, rather than
assist the thousands of innocent victims of violent crime who rely
on it as a last resort for financial recompense."
- Future business to be put before the House of Commons by
22 October can be seen at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmfbusi/c01.htm
- The proceedings of the Delegated Legislation Committee on
Monday 10 September can be heard at: www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11385
and read at:
- In response to a Parliamentary Question from Labour MP Cathy
Jamieson on 18 September, Secretary of State for Justice Chris
Grayling said: "The key issue related to last week's criminal
injuries debate is that I want to ensure that we prepare for the
unexpected. I do not see that there is a case for targeting
resources at minor injuries that do not have a significant effect
on the lives of those affected. I want to concentrate resources on
people who suffer life-changing circumstances as a result of crime.
However, I want to ensure that we have enough flexibility to deal
with unexpected lower-level cases that do not conform with the
overall norms of the scheme." Hansard 18 September: Col. 782
- For further information on the cuts to the Criminal Injuries
Compensation Scheme and Usdaw's campaign against them please visit
- 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.