Controversial changes to crime victims compensation scheme mean only most seriously injured will be able to claim

 

Controversial changes to the scheme for compensating victims of crime have come into force, meaning only the most seriously hurt will be able to claim for their injuries.

The changes, which will save about £50 million a year, were approved by Parliament earlier this month despite opposition from Labour and warnings from the unions that payments to teachers and shop, rail and postal workers injured in incidents at work will be slashed.

Junior justice minister Helen Grant claimed that for victims with minor wounds "prompt practical and emotional support is a more suitable response than relatively small amounts of compensation".

But she also announced a £500,000 a year hardship fund for very low-paid workers in England and Wales who are unable to work following a violent crime but do not qualify for compensation under the new scheme.

"Victims of violent crime endure both physical and emotional suffering and, in some cases, financial hardship due to being unable to work as a result of their injuries," she said in a Commons written statement.

"The Government believes it is right to focus criminal injuries compensation on victims of more serious crime and that for victims with less serious injuries, prompt practical and emotional support is a more suitable response than relatively small amounts of compensation."

But Mrs Grant acknowledged that in some cases less serious injuries result in the victim being unable to work for a temporary period and therefore require financial support.

The hardship fund will be open to victims who do not receive support from employers through statutory sick pay or an equivalent scheme.

PA

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