£100million scheme adopted for survivors of historic child sexual abuse
Lambeth Council has adopted a redress scheme that could pay £100million to survivors of abuse at its former children’s homes.
The Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme will compensate survivors of sexual, physical and psychological abuse suffered at the borough homes which were open from the 1930s until the 1980s and 1990s.
The scheme will give survivors swift and compassionate redress without having to go through the courts. By simplifying the redress process the scheme means far more of the compensation goes to survivors of abuse, rather than being taken up by legal fees.
It also means no survivor will have to restate their experience of abuse in court.
‘A full apology’
Cllr Lib Peck, Lambeth Council leader, said following the decision on December 18: “As the leader of Lambeth Council today I give a full apology for the abuse suffered at our former children’s homes.
“With this redress scheme we can now make good on that apology by giving survivors of abuse the compensation, official recognition of their experience and the support that many have waited for their entire lives.”
The council has secured a capitalisation direction from the Government – which gives the council permission to borrow the £100million needed fund the scheme.
The scheme has independent support for survivors, with each being given access to independent legal representation funded by the council, and any appeal will be heard by an independent multi-disciplinary panel.
Survivors will not be ruled out of time while the scheme is in operation, and Lambeth is the first local authority in England and Wales to develop its own redress scheme. Each survivor will receive a formal apology from the council, and they will be given free counselling support
Lambeth Council has used legal experts and consulted widely on the scheme, including Claire Waxman who has been appointed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as the capital’s first Victims Commissioner.
Ms Waxman said: “I know survivors have concerns around the lack of an independent body for Lambeth’s proposed redress scheme. However, I do believe that the council have done this in order to provide survivors with a much timelier and effective route to redress.
“I am reassured to see that a lot of thought has been given to ensure there is independence within the scheme, and that survivors have access to an independent point of contact and legal advice when making an application. I am also pleased to hear that survivors can take forward an independent review should they not be happy with the outcome.
“I will be carefully monitoring how this scheme works for survivors, and I am hopeful that it will provide them with a transparent, easily accessible route to compensation and will provide some form of justice for the awful abuse too many suffered.”
In 2012 Operation Yewtree, the investigation into the abuse of children, found widespread child abuse in many UK public institutions. The national publicity around child abuse led to many people coming forward who had been abused at Shirley Oaks, one of the council’s former children’s homes.
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was set up by the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014 and Lambeth Council was first named as part of its investigation in 2015. Lambeth has been supporting their work since then and have so far provided over 112,000 pages of documentation to the Inquiry. The investigation covering Lambeth was expected to have taken place in 2017 but this is now not expected to take place until March 2019 at the earliest.
The council is acting now to put the scheme into place due to the length of time that survivors have already waited and the delays in the national hearings into these issues. Some of the abuse dates back to the 1930s (when the homes were run by the Home Office and London County Council) and some survivors are nearing the end of their lives without redress, acknowledgement or the support they deserve.
The most comprehensive redress scheme in the country
The Lambeth redress scheme is now the most comprehensive redress scheme in the country, and could be used as a model for a national version. It provides compensation up to £125,000, with all former residents of a Lambeth Children’s Home who were living in and subjected to a harsh environment eligible to receive a Harm’s Way Payment of up to £10,000. It is estimated 3,000 people will apply and the average claim will be £30,000 to £35,000.
Initial progress of the scheme will be reviewed after three months.
Cllr Peck said: “This decision is a huge step towards honouring the pledge I made to survivors that this council will not be like previous administrations. We have been determined to do the right thing by those who were so appallingly let down.”
To read the report visit the council’s website.