Injuries compensation scheme set for overhaul

People who suffer minor injuries as a result of crime would no longer be eligible for compensation under new government proposals announced today.

Instead they would receive “practical” assistance from newly-created victim support units who would provide them with access to counselling and help with immediate financial costs.

The aim is to free up more money for those seriously injured as a result of crime – one of the proposals would remove the current £500,000 compensation limit for these people.

Launching the consultation document, victims minister Fiona Mactaggart insisted the reforms were needed because existing regulations were “insufficient and too slow”.

“Many victims need better practical support after they have suffered a crime, like a new lock fitted to their door, help with dentists’ bills or special services for disabled or elderly victims,” she said.

“We want to provide that help and put victims’ needs first. But for victims of serious crimes, financial support is an essential element of the overall package.

“So we propose a major simplification of the compensation scheme, increasing the amount of support provided to victims of the most serious crimes and making payments quicker.”

The recent criticism of the government by those affected by the July 7th London bombings had “highlighted” the need for reform, Ms Mactaggart added.

Victims’ groups have given a mixed response to the news, supporting the need for reform, but questioning the merit of doing away altogether with compensation for minor injuries.

Victim Support chief executive Helen Reeves said: “We are pleased that the green paper seeks to address some of our long-standing concerns, including delays in providing help after an incident, stopping means-tested benefits when victims receive compensation, and the overall lack of resources for victim services – which results in a postcode lottery for many victims.”

But she added: “We believe that even a small payment of state compensation is an important gesture of recognition and solidarity for the distress and suffering caused by a violent crime.

“We welcome the wish to speed up and simplify the compensation system, but in an ideal world there would be well-resourced services alongside an effective and equally well-resourced compensation system.”