Violent crime victims ignored by government’s ‘cruel and unnecessary’ compensation cuts, claims Manchester MP

By Jon Robinson

Thousands of victims of violent crime will suffer ‘cruel and unnecessary’ cuts to their compensation claims, according to a Manchester MP.

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, voiced his opposition to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling proposed cuts in a debate in the House of Commons yesterday.

The funding for the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme is to be slashed by more than £50million a year to £150million and 30,000 people a year will no longer get payments or have their payments reduced.

Mr Gwynne said: “The government have sought to make these huge cuts to compensation for 90% of injured victims of crime by the back door, with no discussion by the full House of Commons.”

He said that Labour had called the debate as a final opportunity for MPs to demonstrate to government ministers the fundamental flaws in the program of cuts to Criminal Injuries Compensation.

Mr Gwynne added: “There must be a better way to make cuts than to 90% of seriously injured victims of violent crime and to the dependants of murder victims – who have no other means of redress.

“I am deeply disappointed that Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs chose to ignore the plight facing so many seriously injured victims of crime.”

Under the cuts, people will face a charge of up to £50 before they can lodge a claim for the previously free service.

Also, payments would not be available to victims who sustain injuries such as facial disfigurement, permanent speech impediment or multiple fractured ribs.

Compensation for loss of earnings will be limited to the rate of Statutory Sick Pay to £85 a week and any victim who has had a period out of work in the previous three years will not receive any money.

The most seriously injured and dependents of murder victims will continue to receive full compensation, worth up to £500,000 a year.

John Hannett, General Secretary of the shop workers’ union Usdaw, said: “Thousands of shop workers and other innocent victims of violent criminals desperately need the relatively small amounts that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme provides.

“We believe that seriously injured victims of violent crime have suffered enough and should not have to face possible deprivation and debt as well.

“The Government seem to want victims of crime to suffer financially as well as physically.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman has said after the cuts were announced that they are considering how best to reform the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as it is important to protect payments to the most seriously affected victims of crime.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme currently supports over 30,000 injured victims each year.

The government had attempted to push through the measures in October but retreated because of the threat of a Tory revolt.

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