31/01/2020 - Published by


The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) launched the UK Government’s consultation on a ‘victims’ payment’ on Tuesday 22nd October 2019. The consultation response has now been published and you can access this through the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/862650/VP_consultation_govt_response.pdf

The UK Government was required to bring forward legislation providing for a scheme of payments to those living with injuries sustained in Troubles/Conflict-related incidents, and for that legislation to have effect by the end of May 2020. The legislation has now been published and can be accessed here:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/103/pdfs/uksi_20200103_en.pdf

The purpose of the scheme is described as follows:

“to provide those living with permanent disablement caused by injury through no fault of their own in a Troubles-related incident with payments primarily in acknowledgement of the acute harm which they have suffered. The scheme will also provide a measure of recognition of the implications of living with disablement caused by a serious Troubles-related injury and the associated impact of such disablement on carers, who are often family members; and recognition that in many cases coping with the disablement caused by the serious injury had an adverse financial impact on individuals and their families.”

The Peace Foundation is here to support victims and survivors affected by the Troubles and who are domiciled in Great Britain –

PLEASE CONTACT US – donna.craine@peace-foundation.org.uk 01925 581240

Responsibility for the administration and implementation of the scheme is with the Executive Office of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Scheme provides for an ‘independent board’ to be established to consider key decisions in respect of the scheme. This Board will be judge-led and have discretion in a range of areas.

The scheme will become operational and open for applications by the end of May 2020. The Executive Office will publish details on operational aspects of the scheme in advance of it opening for applications at the end of May 2020.

Who will get payments, and will I be eligible?

The scheme is intended for those severely disabled – physically and psychologically – by a Troubles/Conflict related incident(s). The scheme excludes individuals ‘injured at their own hand’ as evidenced by a spent or unspent conviction. The board overseeing the scheme will also ‘have discretion to withhold a payment where they consider it appropriate to do so because of an unspent serious criminal conviction, or in exceptional circumstances (having regard to material evidence).’

The scheme contains guidance around eligibility in terms of the Troubles/Conflict-related incident – covering for example those ‘not present’ at an incident, but present or responding immediately afterwards. There is a plan to put support in place to help victims and survivors better understand the scheme and to help with the application process once it is in operation. The Peace Foundation offers health & wellbeing support and our caseworker Donna Craine is available to support you. donna.craine@peace-foundation.org.uk 01925 581240

How do I apply for a payment and where can I get support?

The details of the application process have not yet been finalised so we don’t yet know how this will be done. Support will be in place to help victims and survivors through the application process and any other advice you may need. As details of the application process are still under development, it is best to wait until this process is finalised so that you can get more specific and tailored support.

Will I automatically be enrolled into this scheme if I receive support from the Peace Foundation of from the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors Service (VSS)?

No, individuals who currently receive support from the VSS will not be automatically registered for this payment scheme. This scheme is proposed for those who have been severely and permanently injured (either physically or psychologically).

When will these payments be available?

Arrangements are being put in place for this legislation to have effect by 31 May 2020. This should mean that the scheme will be open for applications from that date.

How much will I / others get?

If you are eligible for a victim’s payment, the amount you receive will depend on the ‘degree of disablement’ you have experienced. Payments will be made on a sliding scale, depending on the level of severity of your injury (either physical or psychological disablement). This will be based on the approach already used in other schemes – such as the Industrial Injuries Scheme, and will be determined by qualified health care professionals. If you have experienced multiple injuries, the cumulative impact of those injuries will be assessed, to ensure that the total impact is considered. Proposed annual rates of payment will range from just under £2,000 to just under £10,000. The scheme includes an option to elect for a lump sum rather than annual payments. It will be important that you have financial advice for that decision, and this advice will be made available to you.

Will these payments be backdated?

Victims and survivors who are eligible within the scheme will receive payments on a regular basis for the rest of their lives – and awards will be backdated to the date of the Stormont House Agreement (SHA), 23 December 2014, or paid as a lump sum. The Scheme will not be means-tested. The scheme will not affect your benefits or any taxes that you currently have to pay.

Is this scheme only for residents of Northern Ireland?

No – the scheme is open to victims and survivors of the Troubles/Conflict injured anywhere in the UK regardless of their nationality, or residence ether at the time of the incident or subsequently; and any UK citizen or ‘person entitled to such citizenship based on birth and the provisions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement’ that was injured anywhere in Europe. The Commission for Victims and Survivors continue to lobby the Government of Ireland to put a similar scheme in place in the Republic of Ireland.

I received compensation for my injury – will this affect my payment?

This may or may not have an impact on how much you will receive. If you have received compensation for a Troubles / Conflict related injury in the past, a threshold-based calculation will be undertaken. If prior compensation received exceeds the threshold, the board will have the authority to consider whether the amount to which you will be entitled under this scheme should be adjusted, and by how much.

What period does the scheme cover?

The timeframe for the Scheme covers Troubles/Conflict related incidents or injuries that occurred between the years 1966 – April 2010. An independent panel (the board) will have authority to determine whether anybody injured in a Troubles / Conflict related incident outside of this timeframe should be considered eligible for payments under the Scheme.

Will I need to go through a face to face assessment?

Not all applicants will need to go through a face to face assessment, though some will.

My husband / wife / partner was injured in the troubles / conflict but has now passed away. Will I be eligible to receive payments?

It is proposed to allow carers, spouses, civil partners or co-habiting partners of those who have died since the Stormont House Agreement (Dec 2014) and who would have been eligible for payments through the scheme, to be entitled to receive ten years’ worth of support through the scheme.

It is also proposed that carers, spouses, civil partners or co-habiting partners of those who were seriously injured in a Troubles/Conflict related incident and died in the period 2004-2014 will be able to receive the outstanding balance of payments that they would have received if the scheme had been open in 2014 e.g. a spouse whose loved one died in 2012 would be entitled to 8 years’ worth of payments (2012 – 2020).

The scheme also provides for an injured person to leave 10 years’ worth of ongoing payments to a carer or loved one.

Where can I access the legislation? Can you send it to me? Is there an accessible version?

You can read the legislation online at the following link: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/103/pdfs/uksi_20200103_en.pdf

You can read the Government Response to the Consultation online at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/862650/VP_consultation_govt_response.pdf

The Peace Foundation provides a range of health and well being services and if you feel this might be beneficial, you may wish to be aware of the details and make confidential contact with our specialist Donna Craine donna.craine@peace-foundation.org.uk 01925 581240

We will publish more details about the process to support claims and eligibility in the near future