An updated report on the Lambeth Redress Scheme (LRS) was presented by Lambeth Council at a Cabinet Meeting on the 16 of September.
The report provides an update on the working of the (LRS) up to the end of June, 2019 which is half way through the period of time that the LRS was to be open to receive applications the Scheme was originally due to close on the 1 January, 2020.
It is noted that when the LRS was established it was expected that the IICSA public hearings for children in the care of Lambeth Council would have taken place by January, 2020, however it appears that these hearings will now most likely take place in April and November, 2020 and the associated report will be published by IICSA sometime in 2021.
It is expected that the publication of the IICSA Report on Lambeth will result in more people coming forward who may wish to avail of the LRS and in those circumstances the Council have in this report recommended to the Cabinet that the closing date for the LRS be extended for a further period of two years which would see the closing date for the scheme pushed out to 2022. Given the latest financial forecast for the first two years of the LRS, it is anticipated that the proposed two year extension will be provided for in the original forecast cost of £100 million.
In terms of an update it is worth noting the following:-
- A total of 1,250 applications have been received, 94% of the applicants to date reside in the UK and of that 94%, 50% reside in the greater London area
- Applications are still being received at a rate of 30 to 40 per month
- At the end of June 2019 over £16 million has been paid in redress compensation directly to applicants.
- This £16 million was paid out as follows:-
- £9.9 million paid out in respect of 1101 Harm’s Way payments
- £5.1 million paid out in respect of 250 Individual Redress payments and
- £1.1 million on applications over the Scheme limit of £125,000
- 43% of all applications that have been received to date have been processed to the stage where applicants have received all of the financial redress that is due to them
- 169 letters of apology have been prepared and sent to applicants
- 13 applicants so far having taken up the offer of a meeting with a senior representative of the Council.
- 88% of Applicants are legally represented and there are currently 28 different solicitors firms representing applicants at the LRS
- At present a Harm’s Way Payment is made within 2 months of an application and an Individual Redress Payment is made within 7.5 months of an application
- 47 applications or 3.8% of the total applications received has not been accepted due to not meeting the Scheme criteria.
- 16 appeals have been received of which 8 have been finalised or withdrawn and 8 are ongoing.
In order to raise awareness of the LRS national and international advertising has continued on an ongoing basis and the council has written to a number of UK representatives of countries whose nationals/residents may have an interest in making an application to the Scheme.
The initial actuarial advice was that the estimated cost of the LRS was £100 million, revised actuarial evidence as of the end of June, 2019 is to the effect that it is more likely that the LRS will only now cost £65 to £80 million. It is for this reason that it is anticipated that the proposed two year extension of the LRS will be contained within the original estimated £100 million.
The council reports that it has made a number of changes in terms of operational processes within the LRS to improve the efficiency and overall experience of applicants however, it goes on to refer to the fact that there are a number of issues relating to solicitors for the applicants that have contributed to delays in processing applications also. It notes that the redress team at the council is often contacted by applicants for an update on their application as they have not heard from their own solicitor or have been unable to get hold of them.
The council has had a free specialist and dedicated independent counselling support service for all survivors since 2015. The Council is continuing to fund this counselling service for the duration of the Scheme.
The council appointed an independent external expert to gain insight into applicant’s experiences of engaging with the LRS and to examine what further work can be undertaken to encourage and build confidence in others who have not yet come forward to apply. This feedback led to concerns being raised at an earlier cabinet meeting of the council about the level of settlement offers being made which were low and were later increased. The council instructed a barrister who is an expert in sexual abuse litigation to review a random selection of settled applications. This review considered 53 concluded applications and reviewed the approach taken by the council Solicitors and the relevance of the financial redress offers made in these 53 concluded applications.
Overall this review reflected well on the how the LRS was being operated and it found that that the two main reasons for redress offers being increased from their initial offer were:-
- the provision of further evidence later on which suggested either a greater frequency of abuse than previously indicated and/or
- the provision of further evidence later on which suggested definite psychological effects not mentioned in initial information
For those who are interested in reading the most recent report please click here.
Written by Sharon Moohan, partner at BLM.