Usdaw seeks urgent clarification on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

Date: 12 September 2012 The shopworkers' Union Usdaw has written to Chris Grayling, new Secretary of State for Justice, to seek urgent clarification on whether the Government intends to proceed with imminent cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

The revised Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) would have slashed or axed altogether the compensation paid to almost 90% of innocent victims of violent crime. It was due to be approved by a Parliamentary committee on Monday (10 September) and come into force from 1 October 2012, but was withdrawn by Ministers at the last minute, just before a vote was due to be taken.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said at the time; "I have listened very carefully to what hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have said today about the scheme. I am a new Minister and, having taken some advice and thought very carefully about everything that has been said and the importance of the scheme to people whom we all care about, I have decided not to move the motion on the criminal injuries compensation scheme."

However, later that evening, the Ministry of Justice released a statement saying the Government is still committed to "reforming the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to put it on a sustainable financial footing."

Usdaw has been campaigning hard to stop the cuts to the scheme and has previously briefed all MPs and Lords on the very damaging impact the proposals would have on the innocent victims of violent crime. The Union also wrote to Chris Grayling last week asking him to shelve the cuts. When the Government proceeded to put the cuts to committee, Usdaw wrote to and telephoned all members of the committee to make sure they were aware of the drastic nature of the changes they were being asked to approve.

In the letter to Chris Grayling, Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett says:

"Following my letter of 6 September, Usdaw welcome the decision of your Minister not to pursue a vote on the Draft Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 at the Delegated Legislation Committee on Monday.

"Please appreciate that victims of crime and their advisors now need urgent clarification that the Government will not proceed with cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme by 30 September, as was originally proposed.

"Those who have recently suffered a particularly distressing crime may not yet feel ready to put in a claim for compensation, but if the Scheme is going to be cut drastically from 1 October, as the Draft 2012 Scheme proposed, victims of crime will need to be advised to submit a claim as soon as possible.

"We were surprised to see the statement from the Ministry, saying that the Government are still committed to "reforming the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to put it on a sustainable financial footing."

"As my letter of 6 September and Usdaw's briefing pointed out, the annual cost of the tariff scheme in England and Wales has averaged £192 million over the past 4 years – a cost which is stable and in line with the annual budget of £200 million.

"We therefore hope that the Government will take heed of the MPs from all sides of the Delegated Legislation Committee who urged the Government not to proceed with the proposed cuts to compensation, which would cause financial hardship to thousands of injured victims of crime, adding to the pain and trauma they have already suffered.

"If you would like further information or to meet with victims violent crime who can explain the importance of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to themselves and their families, in helping them to get on with their lives again following an assault, we would be more than happy to arrange this for you.

Notes for Editors:

  1. The cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme were considered by the Delegated Legislation Committee on Monday 10 September. The proceedings of the committee can be heard at: www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11385  and read at: www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/this-weeks-public-bill-general-committee-debates/read/?date=2012-09-10&itemId=126
  2. For further information on the cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and Usdaw's campaign against them please visit http://www.usdaw.org.uk/compensation
  3. 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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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers