On 14 October 2021 Islington Council voted to establish a support payment scheme (SPS) for people who suffered abuse while placed in the council’s children’s homes from 1966-1995.
The background to the SPS is that on 28 September 2017 Islington Council formally apologised to victims of child abuse in Islington care homes for the council’s past failings.
This apology also included an apology to Liz Davies, the social worker who first raised concerns about children in the care of Islington Council; those concerns lead to inquiries which culminated in the White Report being published in 1995 which was highly critical of Islington Council. Ms Davies is credited by Islington Council as having taken the lead in supporting survivors and established Islington Survivors Network (ISN) in 2017. In May 2018, at a meeting with ISN, Islington Council indicated that it was willing to enter into discussions with them about the possibility of a redress scheme.
In March 2021 the Executive at Islington Council approved the proposed SPS to provide financial support for eligible survivors and victims.
Islington Council go on to say that that the SPS is only one part of a wider support scheme which includes trauma counselling, specialist advice, support and assistance for care, housing, appropriate welfare benefits, access to further education and suitable employment and support to access care records.
Support Payment Scheme
The SPS will enable abuse survivors to receive a financial support payment of £10,000, without having to bring a civil compensation claim; it is designed to enable a timely payment which will be much quicker than having to go through the trauma of the lengthy civil compensation process.
Payments will be made through a process that is as straightforward and quick to access as possible, and that minimises the need to re-live past trauma, or the risk of further trauma or harm. An independent advocacy service will also be provided to assist applicants where this is reasonably required.
What is unusual about the SPS is that is very clearly stated not to be a compensation or redress scheme; it will sit alongside the existing civil compensation route, not replace it. What this means is that applicants who receive payments under the SPS can still bring a civil compensation claim in respect of the alleged abuse that they suffered while placed in the council’s children’s homes from 1966-1995 but any payment made to an applicant under the SPS would be offset against any later civil compensation claim payment. The SPS provides that any previous civil compensation claim payment would be offset against a scheme payment.
The SPS will be open for two years though Islington Council can extend or shorten it if required.
It is stated that the SPS does not require or adopt a standard of proof. The wording of the draft scheme says “… it only requires that there is credible information and/or material of an applicant’s eligibility.”
It is a “No Fault” Scheme and does not seek to determine any issue of fault, negligence or legal liability.
There is an appeal mechanism proposed within the SPS and Islington Council say that members of the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) will need to have appropriate knowledge and expertise and will likely comprise judges/barristers, senior or expert social workers and individuals from relevant charitable organisations. It is expected that a judge or barrister will chair the IAP.
The expectation is that there will be in the region of 2000 applicants and Islington Council have for now reserved £16 million to cover direct scheme costs.
It is anticipated that the SPS will launch in Spring 2022.
The National Association for People Abused in Childhood is a national charity offering support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. As well as advocating on behalf of survivors in the media and elsewhere, NAPAC also trains professionals who have frequent contact with survivors of child abuse as part of their working environment. If you have been affected by the issues raised in today’s blog, or would like additional support, please use the links above.