London

Lambeth council 'pushes back' over Shirley Oaks compensation

Archive picture of the site
Image caption Archive picture of Shirley Oaks children's home

Victims of one of the country's worst child abuse scandals have accused Lambeth Council of dragging its heels in offering compensation.

Abuse at the Shirley Oaks Children's Homes in Croydon, south London, dated back decades.

In 2016, every former resident was promised compensation, whether they were abused or not.

Councillors said the process was quicker than legal action, when confronted by the group on Monday.

A report by the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) in 2016 outlined abuse on an "industrial scale" and claimed at least 60 abusers were active from the 1950s to the closure of the homes in 1983.

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Image caption The report was authored by SOSA founder Raymond Stevenson

Lambeth Council accepted liability for the scandal.

It promised swift, simpler "harm's way" payments up to £10,000 to any former resident.

So far 1,002 applications have been received and a total of 851 harm's way payments have been made.

However, separate individual "redress" payments are being made for higher sums and involve assessment of the level of physical and psychological damage suffered.

These payments can be for tens of thousands of pounds.

So far 68 people have received individual redress payments - but 2,000 are expected to claim as part of the two-year scheme.

Image caption The former Shirley Oaks site in Croydon

A council report revealed the average individual redress payment was taking seven months to process.

About 100 members of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association crowded into the Lambeth Council meeting saying that they had been offered "shameful and derisory" compensation.

Many expressed views that the council's lawyers were "haggling" and "pushing back" when applications were made.

A council spokesperson said: "Lambeth is the first local authority in the country to run its own redress scheme, meaning no survivor will have to restate their experience of abuse in court to get compensation. It is expected to cost £100m."

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