Andrew Smith MP

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Stop cuts to compensation for crime victims

FFF.jpgAndrew Smith MP speaks out against plans to slash compensation for 90% of injured victims of crime.

The Minister for Justice withdrew proposals to drastically cut the budget of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme following criticism from MPs on all sides at a Committee meeting on 10 September.

However, the Government have since stated that they are still "committed to reforming the criminal injuries compensation scheme to put it on a sustainable financial footing" (Government jargon for cutting the budget) and have re-tabled the changes to the Scheme to be put to Parliament by 22 October. This would mean that, if passed, the cuts would affect any claim made after 5 November.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is the only means by which many victims who are seriously injured by a criminal can gain any compensation to help them through the difficult time and to make up for wages they may have lost.

The Scheme also helps the dependant children of murder and manslaughter victims.

The proposals which the Government are trying to carry would:

* Abolish all compensation for almost half of victims deemed to have suffered injuries such as a broken hand, facial scarring, multiple broken ribs, or a dislocated jaw.

* Cut compensation awards by up to 60% for more serious injuries such as permanent brain injury, fractured joints, or a punctured lung.

* Cut compensation for loss of earnings to the level of Statutory Sick Pay -- £85 a week - and impose conditions that would make it 'practically unattainable'.

* Impose the same cuts and conditions on compensation for the loss of a parent's earnings by the child dependants of murder and manslaughter victims.

* Prevent victims of dog attacks from receiving any compensation under the scheme, no matter how seriously they were injured.

Andrew said: "The Tory-led Government's plans to cut financial support for the innocent victims of crime, shows how out of touch this Government is. It is hard to believe that the Government are still determined to cut the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme after MPs from both sides criticised the cuts and the effect they would have on the injured victims of crime and on the children of murder victims.

"I have spoken out in the Commons and called on the Government to drop these cruel plans immediately and to do more to help the innocent victims of crime."

John Hannett, General Secretary of Usdaw, the shopworkers' union, thanked Andrew Smith MP for his support: "Usdaw members who are unfortunate enough to suffer a criminal attack that leaves them injured rely on Criminal Injuries Compensation. They often lose wages when they cannot work due to their injuries. Innocent victims of crime should not have to suffer twice -- once in an attack, and also financially.

"It is just not fair to ask injured victims of crime to bear the brunt of austerity. Usdaw and our members are very grateful for Andrew Smith MP's support in the campaign against these unjust proposals."

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