Government delay on compensation ‘unacceptable’
Written by Jessica Bomford, April 19, 2023
The government is not ready to tell people infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal whether they are eligible for compensation, despite knowing they are ‘desperate for a resolution’, we learnt today.
Jeremy Quin MP, the minister responsible for the Infected Blood Inquiry, gave a statement to MPs today following the publication of a report on compensation by Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, on 5 April 2023.
Many people watching the debate were hoping that the government would announce a timetable for payments and details of how they could register to receive compensation. Instead, they were told by Mr Quin that despite ‘working at pace’ through the report, the government would not be announcing its position until it has ‘clarity’, which may not be before Sir Brian publishes his final report in the Autumn.
‘By refusing to give a direct response to the Infected Blood Inquiry’s recommendations on compensation, this government shows a callous disregard for the inquiry process and further compounds the suffering of those who have waited decades for politicians to take responsibility for what went wrong.’Clive Smith, chair of the Haemophilia Society
MPs were critical of the lack of information, with Ian Lavery MP telling Mr Quin that ‘people were dying while the government are dithering and delaying’. Dame Diana Johnson MP, pictured below, asked: ‘What exactly is the problem? Why isn’t there the political will from this government to deliver justice to this group of people?’
Mr Quin said although he was aware that people were desperate for a resolution, the ‘multiple implications’ of Sir Brian’s report had to be ‘worked through’.
Sir Brian’s report stated: ‘I recommend that a compensation scheme should be set up now and it should begin work this year.’ He also recommended that bereaved parents and children should be eligible for interim compensation payments and set out a series of recommendations about how compensation should be calculated and administered.
Clive Smith, Chair of the Haemophilia Society, said: ‘By refusing to give a direct response to the Infected Blood Inquiry’s recommendations on compensation, this government shows a callous disregard for the inquiry process and further compounds the suffering of those who have waited decades for politicians to take responsibility for what went wrong.
‘The government promised to pay compensation if it was recommended by the inquiry. This has now happened, but we await evidence that the government will honour that pledge. We need action and a timetable, it is utterly unacceptable to delay paying this desperately needed and long-over due compensation.’
Sir Brian’s report on compensation is largely based on an independent report commissioned by the government into a compensation framework, which was carried out by Sir Robert Francis. Sir Robert handed in his report in March 2022, but there has never been any public comment about it by the government. Many had hoped that the government would start preparing for a compensation framework from this point onwards, and whilst government states that it is ‘working at pace’ to achieve this, it seems reluctant to share details with the community, which continues to add to the anxiety felt by many.
We know this uncertainty is causing great stress. We will continue, along with other campaign groups, to push for a clear timetable and swift action. Any updates will be shared with you immediately.
If you need help or information, contact our Public Inquiry Team on [email protected] or call 0207 939 0780.