Child sexual abuse victims to be given compensation, Suella Braverman announces

A national compensation scheme for victims of child sexual abuse is to be introduced in England, Suella Braverman has announced.

Thousands of victims « let down by institutions in the past » will be eligible for the fixed term compensation, paid by the Government.

It was recommended by the seven-year independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA), which reported last October.

The Home Secretary told the Commons it was a landmark commitment but acknowledged it would take time to set up – as MPs urged her not to delay introducing the necessary reforms.

« It will mark a step-change in our approach to child sexual abuse. we need to and we will get it right, and if that takes time that is time well spent. I do not want to give victims and survivors the false impression that implementing these big commitments will just happen overnight, » she told the Commons.

« But what I can promise them is today heralds a new start, it signifies a change in direction and it represents an acknowledgement of what they’ve been through, of what they’ve testified and the work of this inquiry. »

The £186.6 million inquiry, set up in 2015, looked at 15 areas scrutinising institutional responses to child sexual abuse – including investigations into abuse in Westminster and the church. More than 7,000 victims took part.

The IICSA, in making the recommendation, said applicants to the scheme should have experienced abuse « where there is a clear connection to state or non-state institutions ».

In making the case for a redress scheme, the inquiry said there were issues with current civil justice and criminal compensation schemes which often « do not provide the accountability and reparation sought by victims and survivors of child sexual abuse ».

The Government said that victims, survivors and charities will be consulted on a number of areas of the scheme, including on who it should support and how non-state institutions should be involved.

But ministers rejected a number of the inquiry’s other recommendations, ruling out calls for a minister for children in the Cabinet.

The formal Government response, published on Monday, argued that the Education Secretary already « provides a voice at Cabinet for the safeguarding and protection of children and will continue to make sure their voices are consistently heard at Cabinet level ».

The Government also said that while it accepted the need for a stronger safeguarding system, it believed the functions of a recommended Child Protection Authority were already covered by other bodies.

Ministers also said the Government is moving « quickly » to introduce a mandatory duty on professionals working with children to report concerns about sexual abuse, with a 12-week consultation launched.

The Home Secretary stressed the need for a « culture change » to tackle abuse.

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