UK & Europe
The Scottish Government says it is making every effort to ensure the Covid-19 outbreak does not disrupt its plans to introduce a Bill providing a financial redress scheme for historic child abuse survivors this year.
In the responses to the consultation, there was broad support for much of the proposed scheme, including:
There was disagreement over some elements of the proposals. One key area is the scope of those covered. Many of those responding to the consultation did not agree that individuals abused in boarding schools and hospitals should be excluded. Similarly not all agreed the scheme should exclude abuse after 1 December 2004.
A key area of discussion is whether previous payments – for example, from civil claims – should be taken into account. Several respondents argued these should be ignored. Crucially, there is disagreement over whether applicants should have to sign a waiver, preventing them for pursuing a civil court action in relation to the abuse if they accept a redress scheme payment. Some respondents argue that redress scheme payments should simply be offset against any civil claim, whereas the fear is that organisations will not agree to take part if the government remove the proposed waiver.
There was disagreement too over some of the mechanics – what evidence should be required for applications; what would constitute fair and meaningful financial contributions to the scheme; whether organisations should be given flexibility for the timing of payments; and where the scheme administration should be based and what the new public body should be called.
The Scottish Government has not yet signalled whether it will be making any changes to its proposed scheme in light of the consultation.
What are the next steps? The Scottish Government will consider these responses which will help to shape the draft Bill. They have not given a specific date for when the Bill will be introduced to Parliament, but says it will be later this year. At this stage, the scheme is still on track to commence in 2021. Abuse survivors, care organisations and insurers should continue to engage with the Scottish Government to help shape a redress scheme which meets the needs of all those involved.