Criminal injury compensation cuts to be reconsidered
- 11 September 2012
- From the section UK Politics
The government is to reconsider plans to scrap compensation payments to victims of minor criminal assaults.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had wanted to restrict payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to those suffering serious injuries.
But an MoJ spokesman said: "We have listened to the views expressed in Parliament and will now consider our next steps."
Victims' groups welcomed the move, which they described as a "turnaround".
The government had said limiting compensation would shave £50m off the annual £449m bill.
Victim Support chief executive Javed Khan said: "As the charity for victims of crime we are pleased the government has decided to abandon its plans to cut compensation for victims of less serious crimes.
"This turnaround shows the government is listening to victims of crime and taking action to make their needs a priority."
Shadow justice minister Rob Flello also welcomed the move and said: "Contemplating these cuts that would have affected innocent victims of crime shows this Tory-led government is out of touch."
Critics had accused the government of putting deficit reduction ahead of compassion for victims of crime who would otherwise struggle to get compensation.
The MoJ spokesman said: "The government is committed to providing the best possible support for victims of crime - maintaining compensation for the most seriously affected - and to reforming the criminal injuries compensation scheme to put it on a sustainable financial footing."
The change comes a week after Chris Grayling replaced Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary, a move which was seen by political analysts as being a move to the right.
Just last week Justice Minister Helen Grant defended the planned changes in the Commons.
She said at the time: "We concluded that the scheme needed to focus resources on the victims who are most seriously affected by injuries that they suffer as a result of deliberate violent crime committed in England, Wales and Scotland.
"We believe that the provision of support services for victims at the point of need is a much better use of money than providing small amounts of compensation, in some cases long after the incident involved, for relatively minor injuries.
"For that reason we are removing payments for less serious injuries such as sprains and fractures."
But Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins responded by saying: "To withdraw compensation from these innocent victims of crime goes against the very purpose of criminal injuries compensation and ignores the view held by successive governments for decades that victims of violent crime deserve more than just words.
"No-one asks to be a victim of crime. Reducing, or removing altogether, the amount of compensation available to those people will send a clear message that the state does not view their injuries as serious or important."