CWU and Usdaw lead the fight against “anti-democratic” process that will leave crime victims penniless
Coalition plans to make cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme were last month withdrawn after Tory MPs joined others in speaking against them at the committee stage. But rather than listen to concerns of committee members, the government has switched the vote to another committee – stuffed with loyal Tories – to ensure the vote goes through.
The “anti-democratic” move has enraged CWU and Usdaw, which have campaigned hard against the cuts on behalf of the many members injured every year in robberies and assaults at work.
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “We’re absolutely dismayed that despite all the talk of a ‘rethink’ and ‘hearing what MPs say’, the government is clearly determined to plough on regardless and try to use its payroll vote to slash vital financial support for innocent victims of violent crime.
“To table the very same scheme it withdrew just last month shows that at the time the government was simply putting itself first, rather than the victims of crime, to avoid an embarrassing defeat at committee.
“To now change the members on the committee, rather than the scheme itself, because previous MPs objected to it, is a shameful act that flies in the face of democracy.
“I think most people will think that a government prepared to go to these lengths to cut vital financial support from the victims of violent crime, while at the same time giving tax cuts to millionaires, has truly lost its moral compass.”
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: “The government says that support for victims is their priority, but actions speak louder than words and they are about to cut compensation for victims of crime. Chris Grayling may think that injuries – such as those caused by vicious dog attacks on postal workers – are ‘minor’, but they have life-changing consequences on the victims who suffer scarring, disfigurement and disability for months or even years.
“If these proposals are voted through by this unelected committee it will mean that the victims of violent crime – such as muggings and dog attacks – who are unable to secure compensation through the courts or insurance companies could be left with nowhere to turn for help. Many others would only qualify for vastly reduced sums.
“The government has refused to act on the problem of dangerous dogs and is now intent on making the situation worse for the victims of dog attacks and other violent crime.
“Cutting CICS would be one of the cruelest acts of this coalition government yet, taking compensation from the victims of crime who have nowhere else to turn. We hope that members of the committee will turn these proposals away and that government will this time amend their proposals instead of trying to railroad unpopular and unfair legislation.”
On the original committee, four Conservatives spoke against the cuts, forcing Justice Minister Helen Grant to withdraw the proposals before a vote could be taken, saying: “Having taking some advice and thought very carefully about everything that has been said and the importance of the scheme to people whom we all care about, I have decided not to move the motion on the criminal injuries compensation scheme.”
But despite a commitment to ‘rethink’ the scheme in light of MPs’ comments, the government has re-tabled exactly the same revised scheme for consideration at a Delegated Legislation Committee that meets at 11.30am today. If MPs vote the revised scheme through this committee, it will come into force just two weeks later.
In another twist, that highlights the government’s determination to force through the cuts, the composition of the committee that will consider the revised scheme has been changed. Just 18 MPs will get a vote on the proposals and the ten government MPs now astonishingly include a minister, a whip, 4 parliamentary private secretaries, the president of the Liberal Democrats and a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party.
The current Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme makes awards to between 30,000 and 40,000 people each year who are seriously injured following a crime of violence. If the revised scheme is approved then half of all victims will receive nothing in future and almost 90% will lose out, including the most seriously injured and even the dependents of murder victims.
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