Victims of sexual abuse in Lambeth council children homes are set to receive damages of between £1,000 and £100,000 each.
An estimated 3,000 claims from victims are expected – with the final compensation bill totaling around £100 million.
Lambeth have also announced their intention to seek to recover compensation payouts from the victims abusers where possible.
The announcement comes in the wake of allegations by MP John Mann – a former Lambeth Labour councillor – who says two council employees were murdered after threatening to blow the lid on the scandal – and allegations in Private Eye magazine that documents surrounding the case were destroyed as recently as 2009.
Two special Lambeth council meetings are being held next Monday (18th) at Kennington Oval cricket ground – a cabinet meeting at 3pm to approve a range of recommendations which will then go to a full council meeting two hours later in the same venue.
A council summary of the report to cabinet says:
- the overriding principles of the proposed scheme are that redress will be swift, transparent and compassionate – with independent oversight.
- the scheme will enable survivors of abuse to receive the financial redress to which they are legally entitled without having to use the court system.
- no survivor will have to restate their experience of abuse in court, applicants will receive a formal apology from the councilBut buried in one appendix Lambeth announce their intention to recover payments from perpretrators of offences – and “any other organisation(s) which may also be liable for the abuse to some extent.”
And victims will be ” invited to cooperate with the council in pursuing a recovery” (21.1 and 21.2 page 14 of 14 Appendix A).
Some of the cases date back to the 1930s when the homes were managed by the Home Office and by the former London county council, Lambeth taking over the role when the London borough was formed in 1965.
The scheme has been extended to include abuse by foster parents where victims were moved from a childrens home.
“After several prosecutions of former staff at children’s homes there is evidence that many children in those homes were put in harm’s way and will have lived in fear of abuse” says the report to cabinet.
“This innovative model of redress provides compensation to former residents of the homes who were put at risk through the failures of the council and its officers.
“Nothing can fully compensate people for those experiences but it is important for survivors that the abuse that happened to them is recognised and acknowledged, and that they receive an apology.
“Survivors of abuse also wish to know that children today will be better protected. “It is also the case that because of the adversarial nature of the court process survivors of abuse can be re-victimised by having to recount their experiences.
“The aim of the redress scheme is to prevent re-victimisation whilst providing a range of reparations that hopefully will enable people to move on with their lives.”
The report says the purpose of the redress scheme is to ensure that the survivors of abuse in Lambeth’s former children’s homes can obtain speedy and compassionate access to redress without the need to go through the civil justice process and to avoid duplicating that process.
“Lambeth is not alone in having failed children in its care.
“It is the first local authority to have decided to develop a redress scheme to compensate survivors of non-recent abuse.”
If – as is almost certain – it is formally agreed by cabinet, the scheme will be opened on 2 January 2018. The Scheme will be open for two years from the date of implementation.
Finance: It is estimated that the possible number of claims could be 3,000 and therefore a possible cost to the scheme of £100 million. In addition there are anticipated to be complex claims arising of between 5% and 10% of the claims, which will have to be dealt with outside the scheme, says the report.
It is not possible for the council to fund the scheme from revenue as there are insufficient reserves and balances to cover such a large sum. In the first instance a request has been made to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to make a capitalisation direction in order to use capital as revenue. “This has been approved by the Secretary of State.
“While the capitalisation direction is welcome, we will continue to lobby central government for them to meet the costs of redress directly, rather than allowing them to fall on local authorities” the report adds.
Editor’s note: SOSA’s website says it was “set up to listen and document the accounts of those who have suffered or witnessed a variety of horrific abuse whilst in care in Lambeth children’s homes.
“Not all children suffered sexual abuse but to date we now know the victims ran into the hundreds. “The destruction didn’t stop there. “When you add those who were physically abused and those who suffered mental trauma the numbers become alarming. “Most of this was down to inadequate house parents who failed to address the physiological issues of growing up without parents.”