Shirley Oaks Survivors Association’s concerns over the redress scheme for victims of child abuse in Lambeth-controlled children’s homes were not highlighted at a council cabinet meeting last December, says a report by an equality and diversity consultant.
SOSA presented the council with an interim report which highlighted various concerns across the board, with particular emphasis on the extent of the sexual abuse that had occurred and the impact of other types of abuse that occurred for example, racially motivated abuse and child on child abuse.
SOSA has stated that they never endorsed the Redress Scheme and more shockingly the objections they raised were not considered as part of the EQIA (Equality Impact Assessment) process, says the report by Paul Riddell,a former Commission for Racial Equality head of legal strategy and private sector in London and the South
“It is also concerning that the council did not highlight SOSA’s concerns about the scheme to its cabinet meeting before the scheme was approved last December.
“In their 07 December 2017 press release the council said: ‘The Redress Scheme acknowledges that all former residents of Lambeth children’s homes were living in, and subjected to, a harsh environment. ‘With input from survivors a Harm’s Way Payment has been developed that reflects that environment, and has stepped payments of up to £10,000 for former residents.’
“What they didn’t make public was that their ‘groundbreaking’ Harm’s Way Payment would act as an interim payment which means a significant proportion of victims will not receive an additional payment for the abuse they experienced.
“Lambeth council also said the scheme would: ‘provide swift and compassionate redress, while ensuring compensation for survivors of abuse is not swallowed up by lawyers’ fees’.
“This is not the case as lawyers on both sides are being paid to process abuse claims where due to the restrictive nature of the tariff, some survivors will not receive an additional payment for the abuse they experienced. “This has a disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities and claimants with disabilities.
“We have a case of racially motivated abuse where the claimant lived under the extreme racist regime of a house parent for four years. “This person is effectively being offered £10k by way of personal injury which amounts to £2500 for each year of being subjected to a racist house parent.
“The council are aware that the house parent was an extreme racist and he was dismissed to this effect. “Conversely, we have claims where individuals have received higher payments for personal injuries, for physical or emotional abuse, that were less extreme or prolonged in nature.
“SOSA has consistently argued that the council, who were the corporate parent of a significant number of BME children, were not reflecting the impact of racism appropriately in its scheme – this is now demonstrated in the way the scheme is being administered.
“SOSA claims the Redress Scheme was constructed in this way to minimise its financial impact upon the council. “SOSA believe the council was fully aware of this outcome and that the consequences were intended and this is the reason why some of their objections are not included in the Scheme and reflected in the EQIA.
“The Redress Scheme presented the council with the ideal opportunity to address their failure to protect children in homes under their care during the 1960s to the 1990’s by fully and properly compensating individuals who had suffered historical abuse.
“In order to achieve this they should have considered the best policy options that were open to them by addressing the concerns of the survivors of abuse and their representatives. “Their failure to do so has clearly prolonged the continual suffering of some individuals and groups.”