Infected blood scandal: How will the UK pay £10 billion in compensation?

More than 30,000 people were infected with HIV and hepatitis via blood transfusions in the 1970s and 1980s

Alexander Butler
Monday 20 May 2024 21:43 BST
Infected blood inquiry chair urges government to compensate victims

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The Infected Blood Inquiry chairman has urged the government to pay billions of pounds in compensation to victims of the scandal which led to the deaths of thousands of people.

Sir Brian Langstaff said the UK must pay up immediately after the probe found politicians, doctors and civil servants were involved in a chilling cover-up of the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

More than 30,000 people were given “life-shattering” infections of HIV and hepatitis via blood transfusions, most of which “could and should have been avoided” throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

“That disaster was no accident. The government compounded that agony by telling them that nothing wrong had been done, that they’d had the best available treatment. Compensation must be paid now,” Sir Brian said.

But with the compensation package set to reach around £10 billion, how will the government pay for it? The Independent takes a look below.

Cressida Haughton, whose father died, and Deborah Dennis, whose husband died, outside Central Hall in Westminster
Cressida Haughton, whose father died, and Deborah Dennis, whose husband died, outside Central Hall in Westminster (PA Wire)

How much will compensation cost?

Around 3,000 surviving victims were awarded interim payments of £100,000 each in August 2022 at the recommendation of Sir Brian - a sum of around £300 million.

Now, UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt is preparing to unveil a compensation package of at least £10 billion which will be announced as early as Tuesday, according to The Sunday Times.

The government is expected to announce different payments for different infections and also address how and when bereaved families can apply for interim payments on behalf of the estates of people who have died.

How will the government pay for it?

Mr Hunt did not confirm the cost or funding arrangements of the compensation scheme, but senior government sources suggested it could stop his government from announcing pre-election tax cuts.

Asked whether he was forced to choose between pre-election tax cuts and compensation, Mr Hunt said: “Sometimes you have to take a decision that goes beyond numbers and is just about justice.

“And, you know, in this case, this is one of those rare decisions that comes across a chancellor or a prime minister’s desk where you just have to be very clear about the difference between right and wrong.”

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