Lambeth’s unique Redress Scheme was launched in January 2018, in the absence of a national equivalent. At that time 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 are now scheduled for between April and November next year, with a report containing its conclusions expected in 2021. The proposal to extend has been made to ensure as many people as possible are able to get compensation – with the hearings expected to result in more people coming forward.
The Redress Scheme, which is already estimated to have cost £53million, was set up in the absence of a national compensation scheme. 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.
The latest figures are contained in Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme Update, published after eighteen months of operation, during which 1,250 compensation applications have been received.
The Redress Scheme was set up to avoid re-traumatising survivors by offering an alternative to going through the courts – which is the usual route for compensation claims. It aims to be quicker, simpler and with lower legal costs – meaning compensation for survivors of abuse is not swallowed up by lawyers’ fees.
Word from the Cabinet
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.
“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.”
The Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme has a Harm’s Way Payment of up to £10,000 which compensates those 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.
As well as financial compensation 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.
Since the last update report to Cabinet in April work has been done 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 webpages 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.
The council instructed a barrister who is an expert in sexual abuse litigation 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. Lambeth Council is a core participant in this investigation and continues with its preparations for the hearings, having now disclosed 200,000 pages of relevant documents and files to IICSA.