Lambeth's Redress Scheme for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in the borough is set to be extended for a further two years, according to the London borough, enabling more victims to gain compensation for their abuse.
Lambeth Council's cabinet was set to meet last month to consider extending the Redress Scheme, which provides compensation to people who survived neglect and abuse in the borough’s former children’s homes between the 1930s and the 1980s-1990s.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council leader, said: “We’re working hard to ensure we can do everything within our powers to compensate survivors, and I will be supporting this extension because I believe it’s the right thing to do."
The Redress Scheme was set up in January 2018 as there was no national compensation scheme in place. The proposal to extend has been made to ensure as many people as possible are able to get compensation for the abuse and neglect they experienced in the borough's children's homes.
The Redress Scheme was set up to avoid re-traumatising survivors by offering an alternative rather than going through the courts, which is the usual route for compensation claims. It aims to be quicker and simpler process, with lower legal costs.
After eighteen months of operation, 1,250 compensation applications have been received from victims and survivors.
The Redress Scheme is already estimated to have cost £53million and, if extended, could cost £100 million. Of the total amount spent on redress and legal costs by June this year more than 83 per cent has been paid directly to survivors in compensation.
When the scheme was launched in January 2018, it was anticipated that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) public hearings into children in the care of Lambeth would have taken place before the scheme’s scheduled closing date, on January 2, 2020.
However, the Lambeth hearings of the inquiry have been put back and are now scheduled to be heard between April and November next year, with a report containing its conclusions expected in 2021. It is anticipated that more people will coming forward following the Inquiry's hearings about Lambeth.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council leader, added: “A lot of extra work has been done over the last over the last six-months to listen to survivors and ensure the scheme works for them.
“That includes running sessions with people who have been compensated to get feedback on their experience and working with the National Association for People Abused in Childhood to make sure information is easy to understand.
“We are determined to continue with this work. Our former children’s home residents were very badly let down, and the Redress Scheme is incredible important in not only compensating people, but publically acknowledging the impact on those that suffered abuse.
“I want to apologise to abuse survivors of behalf of the council," he said.
The Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme has a Harm’s Way Payment of up to £10,000 which compensates people who feared abuse or neglect and Individual Redress Payments of up to £125,000 which compensate those who survived neglect and abuse.
Any racial abuse that a survivor suffered automatically qualifies an applicant for a Harm’s Way Payment of up to £10,000. Where an application is also made for an Individual Redress payment then any racial abuse is also factored into the tariff bands.
Survivors are offered independent legal representation funded by the council, a formal apology from the council, a meeting with a senior council representative and free counselling support. There is also specialist advice available to help with housing, welfare, benefits, further education and employment.
Work has been carried out to speed up the redress process and the council has consulted with applicant’s solicitors to make sure they understand how to best access the scheme on behalf of their clients.
Dedicated web pages containing Redress Scheme information and application forms have been reviewed and updated.
The council also used an independent expert to gain insight into survivors’ experiences of engaging with the Redress Scheme, to examine what further work can be done to encourage and build confidence in others who have not yet come forward to apply.
A barrister who is an expert in sexual abuse litigation has been instructed by the council to undertake a review of a random selection of settled applications to ensure they are being handled fairly and appropriately.
“Children in the care of Lambeth Council” is one of 14 different strands for investigation selected by IICSA.