Abusers could be forced to make financial payouts to survivors of historic child abuse in care

Adults responsible for the abuse of children in care could be forced to make financial contributions to their victims according to new proposals from the Scottish Government.

Survivors of historic child abuse in care may have their financial redress paid by those responsible for their abuse.

A consultation launched today, is seeking the public's views on the design of the government's statutory financial redress scheme for survivors of historical child abuse in care.

One proposal is to force those responsible for the abuse of children in care to make financial contributions to the new scheme

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Another suggests that the families of those who were abused, but who died before being able to claim compensation, be allowed to make applications to the scheme for a "next of kin payment".

The consultation, which has been drafted based on work with survivors, proposes a two-stage payment approach, comprising a flat rate payment, with the option of applying for an additional payment reflecting the nature and severity of abuse and the lifelong impact on survivors.

It also says that historical abuse should be defined as abuse which took place before December 1, 2004, and is seeking views on creating a new public body to administer the scheme and an independent panel to decide on applications.

Launching the consultation, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Scotland has joined a small but growing number of countries facing up to the wrongs of the past.

“Responding to the harm done to children in care by those trusted to look after them is the right thing to do. I know that nothing can make up for what happened, but along with other measures to help survivors, financial redress is an important step.

“Getting the design of a financial redress scheme right is of the utmost importance if it is to give survivors the acknowledgement they need and deserve. That is why I encourage everyone to have their say by taking part in the consultation.”

This consultation addresses the principles and structures of the redress scheme, and the government is expected to work with survivors to consider payment levels at a later stage.

Helen Holland, chair of In Care Abuse Survivors group (INCAS), said: “We encourage all survivors to participate in the public consultation. It is important their voices are heard.”

And David Whelan, spokesperson for Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers, said: “We welcome the very positive steps that the Scottish Government has taken to commit to implementing a redress scheme for former residents abused in the past care system.

“The severe harm, damage and trauma inflicted and its impact on former residents abused, as highlighted in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, simply cannot be quantified in monetary terms. A redress scheme, that is fair and reasonable, will go some way to help survivors rebuild their shattered lives.”

The consultation closing date for responses is November 25 and the redress scheme Bill is expected to be introduced next spring.

The current Advance Payment Scheme, for those with a terminal illness or aged 70 or over, opened in April this year, to try and ensure as many survivors as possible, who are approaching the end of their life, can receive financial redress.

Since then, as of the end of August, 202 payments have been made to survivors of childhood abuse in care, each receiving £10,000 in compensation.

More than 250 application packs have been sent out, and the government has received 700 calls on a dedicated phone line set up to help survivors apply to the scheme.