Duncan Lewis

Victims of minor injuries can relax as criminal injuries compensation stays for them

Date: (11 September 2012)    |    

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The Ministry of Justice’s proposals to restrict criminal injuries compensation scheme payments only to those suffering from serious injuries has been dropped and will be available even to victims of minor criminal assaults it was decided last night.
Injuries such as dislocated jaw or broken hand from criminal acts like street attacks would not have been eligible for compensation if the plans of MoJ had gone ahead.
After a debate by a Commons committee which was scrutinising the plans, government withdrew its plans.
Critics had claimed the measures would leave victims unable to seek redress for being attacked and accused the Government of putting deficit reduction before compassion.
The plans would have saved £50million from a compensation bill of £449million. Rob Flello, Labour’s justice spokesman, welcomed the decision saying that even thinking of such a cut which would have affected innocent victims of crime would have shown the government as having lost its touch.
There are 25 compensation bands starting at £1,000 for minor sprains and fractures or for ‘temporary mental anxiety’. The bottom five bands would have been eliminated if the proposal had gone through.
Top of the band victims could receive any where from as much as £250,000 if they suffer paralysis and very serious brain damage requiring full-time care.
If the figures for the past two years were to be considered more than 17,000 claims totalling in excess of £25million for injuries including sprained ankles, broken toes and dislocated jaws would have no longer qualified for compensation under the proposals. A further 12,950 claims totalling £50million would be reduced.
These would include payouts for brain injuries, such as minor brain damage, well-controlled epilepsy and permanent disabling dislocations and fractures.
A Whitehall spokesman said justice minister Helen Grant had ‘listened’ to the views expressed by the committee and the Government would consider its next move.
A spokesman said the Government was committed to providing the best possible support for victims of crime, maintaining compensation for the most seriously affected, and to reforming the criminal injuries compensation scheme to put it on a sustainable financial levels.
Just last week, Miss Grant, during her first despatch box appearance since she was promoted from the backbenches in David Cameron’s reshuffle, defended the proposed changes. Replying to a short Commons debate whether cutting compensation was not defeating the very purpose of injuries compensation she said that cuts were a coherent and fair way of focusing payments on those most seriously affected by their injuries, within an affordable budget.