Criminal injuries compensation scheme: upcoming changes
The revised criminal injuries compensation scheme is due to come into action on Tuesday 27 November 2012, as confirmed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
This follows the initial consultation of ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses’ which began on 30 January and ended on 22 April 2012. The document put forward a number of changes to the services witnesses and victims currently receive. The reduction of the compensation budget was cited as a necessary cutback due to a lack of adequate funding.
During the consultation period, a number of modifications were made due to opposition from MPs. In July 2012, the Draft Scheme was approved by the House of Lords. However, this also received heavy criticism from Labour and Conservative members when considered by the House of Commons in September 2012, meaning that the proposal then went back to the Ministry of Justice for further consideration.
On Monday 12 November 2012, the revised scheme was finally passed by 275 votes to 231 following the addition of a £500,000 hardship fund for victims whose income would be affected by their sustained injuries.
Currently, the scheme awards compensation to between 30,000 and 40,000 victims who can’t achieve a settlement from any other source. When the new scheme comes into effect on 27 November, 90% of claimants will have their financial support cut or axed. This means that many innocent victims of violent crime will be unable to receive compensation for any physical and psychological damage they have endured.
Up until 23:59 on 26 November, claimants will be able to submit an application for compensation through the existing scheme. Yet, all new applications after the 27 November will be dealt with through the 2012 system, even if the injury was sustained prior to this date.
For victims of violent crime, it is advisable that any compensation claims are submitted prior to the change. To ensure that your claim is successful, you must have co-operated with police, the incident must have taken place in England, Scotland or Wales and you must begin your claim within two years of the event. If you have a criminal record or have received personal injury compensation outside the CICA, this can affect your eligibility.
Both during and after the revised scheme comes into action, victims can also choose to obtain criminal injury compensation advice from personal injury solicitors. As the process can be complex and time-consuming, an experienced legal team can help to manage the process and make sure that your application is accurate to help you achieve the right level of compensation. This guidance can be especially useful if your claim is complicated, involves large amounts of money, if you deem that an initial compensation offer was too low or if your initial claim was dismissed.