Compensation scheme for victims of child abuse in care

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A financial compensation scheme for victims of child abuse in care is to be set up by the Scottish Government.

Ministers also intend to make fast-track payments to survivors aged 70 and over, and those approaching the end of their lives through illness.

An independent inquiry is currently examining historical allegations of the abuse of children in dozens of institutions, including religious and voluntary organisations.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said legislation to establish the redress scheme would be passed before the end of the current parliamentary term in 2021.

Families of deceased victims will also be eligible to apply, he said.

Meanwhile, provisions will be made in the 2019/20 budget to enable those who may not live long enough to apply to the statutory scheme, due to ill-health or age, to receive payments.

“Today, on behalf of the Scottish Government, I offer an unreserved and heartfelt apology to everyone who suffered abuse in care in Scotland. We are deeply ashamed of what happened,” he said.

“I know that nothing can ever make up for the suffering which survivors have endured.

“Nonetheless, they have told us that redress is an important element of justice and that it would provide some degree of recognition and acknowledgement.

“That is why we will have a redress scheme in Scotland, one which treats survivors with sensitivity and respect.”

He said: “We will move to make advance payments as soon as we possibly can.

“While some months will be required to develop and set up the scheme, we will do so with urgency.”

The move follows a series of recommendations from an expert review group – which included abuse survivors – set up by the government to consider the issue of redress.

It called for contributions to the scheme from residential care providers, local authorities and religious orders as the “responsible” parties.

Mr Swinney said he intended to pursue the recommendation “with vigour”, but stressed compensation payments were not dependent on such contributions.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith emphasised her party’s “wholehearted commitment to ensuring that we are fully supportive of all the victims who suffered appalling abuse whilst in care, and supportive of the Scottish Government as it seeks ways to find appropriate financial redress”.

Scottish Labour MSP Iain Gray also welcomed the scheme, but called for legislation to establish it to be progressed as quickly as possible.

“As well as the advanced payments scheme, will the Cabinet Secretary not bring the deadline for the full redress scheme forward, and we will do all that we can to help him accelerate that legislation through this Parliament,” he said.

A spokesman for the group Former Boys And Girls Abused in Quarriers Homes said: “We would like to thank the Scottish Government for its heartfelt apology given in the Scottish Parliament by John Swinney and by following this up with action by the commitment to set up a compensation scheme.

“We would also like to thank Nicola Sturgeon for taking the time today to meet with us.

“We look forward to continuing the engagement with the Scottish Government in shaping and forming the compensation scheme whereby it is victim-survivor centred.”

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