Compensation: A year of government inaction

Written by Jessica Bomford, April 5, 2024

One year ago today, the Infected Blood Inquiry released its Second Interim Report which called for a compensation scheme to be set up as a matter of urgency by the end of 2023.

A year later, we’re still waiting for a commitment that the government will pay full compensation, despite its acceptance of the moral case. The anxiety and anger this inaction is causing to our community is immense.

There has been no visible progress by the government towards implementing the recommendations made by Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, despite frequent assurances by ministers that work is happening behind the scenes.

Kate Burt, Chief Executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: ‘Our community has watched with increasing anger, disbelief and cynicism as the government blatantly tries to pass the buck on compensation. A year after the Infected Blood Inquiry recommended that compensation should be paid, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s refusal to accept responsibility on this issue is repugnant and cruel.

In just a few weeks, the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report will reveal the failings within government which contributed to the contaminated blood scandal four decades ago. It is sad to see that the damage inflicted by government continues to the present day.’

Since April 2023, key government ministers, including Mr Sunak, have been called before the Infected Blood Inquiry to give an update on compensation. There have been marches, protests, a mass lobby of parliament and two debates in Parliament. In December, politicians from 10 political parties united to pass an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill which will force the government to set up a compensation scheme within three months of it becoming law. The report stage of this bill begins in the House of Lords on 16 April.

In his second interim report, Sir Brian set out who should be eligible for compensation and how a scheme might be structured. He said it should be administered through an independent, arms-length body. He does not specify how much compensation should be paid. The report also recommended that an interim compensation payment of £100,000 should be made to ‘recognise the the deaths of people to date unrecognised and alleviate immediate suffering’. This includes some bereaved parents, bereaved children and bereaved siblings where there is no bereaved partner, child or parent. This payment has not been made.

Sir Brian also recommended that a bespoke psychological support service should be set up in England ‘without delay’, which has not happened. The government said that it aims to have the service running by early summer 2024.

On 20 May the Infected Blood Inquiry will publish its final report which will look at the failures which led to the contaminated blood scandal. The government has said it will respond to Sir Brian’s recommendations on compensation once it has seen his final report.

The Haemophilia Society will be holding a webinar on 2 May 2024 at 7pm to discuss the current position on the campaigning for compensation and arrangements for the inquiry report launch day. Full details are on our website.