Compensation updates

Written by Jessica Bomford, April 25, 2024

We want to bring you up to date with a few developments relating to compensation, including an upcoming meeting with a minister, and changes we’d like to see to legislation being discussed in Parliament next week.

Meeting with minister on 7 May

John Glen, the minister with responsibility for the Infected Blood Inquiry, has invited a number of campaigners and groups to meet him in the next few weeks. Our Chief Executive, Kate Burt, and Chair, Clive Smith, have been invited to meet Mr Glen on 7 May. You can read the letter they received here in which he says he wants to ‘personally share the progress I am making’. We will update you about what is said at the meeting. This invitation comes following informal engagement between the Cabinet Office, Clive and the chairs of Haemophilia Scotland and Haemophilia NI, Bill Wright and Nigel Hamilton over the last few weeks.

Compensation debate in House of Lords

Last week the government published amendments to the Victims and Prisoners Bill relating to compensation for people infected and affected by contaminated blood products, which will be discussed in the House of Lords on 30 April. These amendments set out the government’s plans to create an Infected Blood Compensation Authority (IBCA), which would come into force on the day that the bill becomes law. We summarised the amendments’ main points here.

The government was forced into this action in December 2023 by Dame Diana Johnson, along with MPs from all parties, who voted in support of an amendment stipulating that a compensation scheme would be set up for people infected and affected by contaminated blood as part of the Victims and Prisoners Bill.  The Infected Blood Inquiry recommended in April 2023 that a compensation scheme should be set up as a matter of urgency and there has been huge frustration at the lack of government progress on this issue.

Changes needed to government’s compensation plans

Having studied the government’s plans for a compensation scheme, we are proposing some changes. We are working with peers to ensure they are included in amendments to be discussed at the debate in the House of Lords on 30 April.

Our key points are:

  • Principles of transparency, speed, simplicity should be included on the face of the bill
  • In the definition of ‘eligible’ persons, we want to specify ‘infected or harmed’ persons so as not to exclude some people from compensation
  • IBCA should be chaired by a high court or court of session judge
  • Appeals can be taken to the high court or court of session
  • Previous payments must not be taken into account
  • Remove restrictions that could time-limit applications for compensation
  • Community involvement should be required as well as representation from all four parts of the UK
  • IBCA should report to Parliament rather than the government
  • Include timetables for the setting up of IBCA, the compensation scheme and payment of interim compensation.

Timetable for compensation payments needed

Kate Burt, Chief Executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: ‘We need a timetable for the establishment of the new compensation authority and a clear indication of who is eligible for payments and when they might receive them. We welcome the chance to hear from the minister about how he plans to move this urgent issue forward quickly, fairly and transparently.’

You can watch the debate on the Victims and Prisoners Bill on 30 April here, timings will be confirmed on the day but debates usually start after 3pm.

Join webinar on compensation 2 May

If you have any questions, you can email us at [email protected]. We are holding a webinar on Thursday, 2 May at 7pm to discuss any updates on compensation as well as arrangements for the publication of the inquiry’s final report on 20 May. Details of how to join the meeting are here.