Usdaw says survey of members found nearly half of all victims of violent assault will receive no compensation under new scheme
There is a warning that ‘the most vulnerable will be made to pay’ in proposals about to be rubber-stamped by the House of Lords which would impose deep cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
Unions say low-paid workers will be hardest hit by axing a financial lifeline designed to help them recover and return to work, if they are victim of a criminal assault.
The proposals – to be debated by peers later today – follow a consultation earlier this year by the Ministry of Justice which set out cuts to the compensation scheme (CICS) and new regulations which would peg any awards to the victim’s loss of earnings.
Under the revised CICS, critics estimate nearly half of all victims currently eligible for compensation would receive nothing, more than a third would see their compensation severely reduced and only 17% of the most seriously injured victims will be eligible for the same amount of compensation.
Usdaw says thousands of its members are at risk of violent physical assault at their work.
Convenience store manager, Simon, risked his own safety when he disarmed an axe-wielding man during an attempted robbery at the store in Stoke-on Trent.
“I saw a man at the till waving an axe and shouting at the checkout assistant.
“As I went to grab the handle of the axe there was a bit of a tussle and it fell to the floor. I managed to kick it out of the way.
“Two customers came to my aid and we held him down until the police arrived. He became more aggressive and started lashing out, then he bit my leg.”
The man was arrested and detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.
Simon received a £1,250 award from the CICA for his injuries and the mental trauma he suffered. He also received a Public Bravery Award from the local police.
Under the proposed changes to the CICS he would receive nothing, says Usdaw.
Ministers say the new scheme – which could be in force as early as 30 September – is designed to save £50m from the CICS’ £200m annual budget.
The Coalition intends to limit compensation for loss of earnings to those victims of crime with very serious injuries and no or very limited capacity to work.
Instead of compensation based on their average earnings, eligible victims will only receive a flat rate payment equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay, currently just £85.85 a week.
The union says of more than 100 cases it supported last year, 67% would no longer receive any compensation under the revised scheme.
22% would see their compensation halved and 11% of the most seriously injured would have their compensation significantly reduced because of the new loss of earnings calculations.
John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary said: “Only such an out of touch government could suggest they are ‘getting it right’ for innocent victims of violent crime by axing the support that recompenses victims and helps them get back on their feet.
“For the victims forced to take time off work as a result of the criminal assault, the injuries are not trivial and the compensation certainly isn’t trivial.
“Many face reductions in income they can ill afford and some may even be tipped into severe financial trouble. In many cases the compensation provides a financial lifeline to workers who have lost income through absolutely no fault of their own.
“Despite promises to the contrary, the Government is once again making the most vulnerable pay for their failing attempts to reduce the deficit. These cuts are truly a case of adding insult to injury.”
The union has estimated that the proposed cuts would mean that each year more than 17,000 victims of violent crime, including those who suffer from fractured ribs, a dislocated jaw or a perforated ear drum, will no longer be eligible for any compensation.
A further 13,000 victims who suffer more serious injuries, including minor brain damage, a fractured skull or damage to the retina, will face reductions in compensation of up to of 60%.
Just 6,000 victims a year will have their compensation payments protected.
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