Interim compensation considered by inquiry
Written by Jessica Bomford, July 18, 2022
Sir Brian Langstaff, chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, has given a strong indication that he intends to make an early recommendation calling on the government to pay interim compensation.
At the inquiry on 15 July he asked for submissions from core participants about whether he should exercise his powers to make a recommendation before the end of the inquiry on interim compensation.
Evidence last week from Sir Robert Francis QC, author of the Infected Blood Compensation Study, swayed Sir Brian on two points:
- Interim payments could be rolled out very quickly as applicants are already registered on support schemes
- By contrast, the proposed compensation scheme itself, ‘will take appreciable further time’ to get up and running.
Sir Robert said there was a ‘compelling case’ for an interim payment of no less than £100,000 to be paid to those surviving infected people currently registered with a UK infected blood support scheme. If approved by the government, this would mean a flat-rate amount would be paid out before the end of the inquiry to those eligible. This figure would not represent the total amount of compensation due to those individuals but would be an ‘advance’ on a final payout which should be sufficient to ‘make choices’ and allow those very ill or dying to ‘settle their affairs’, Sir Robert said.
Sir Brian has asked core participants whether they want him to make a recommendation on interim payments and what the scope of those payments should be. He wants responses by 5pm on Monday, 25 July.
The Haemophilia Society provisionally plans to respond to Sir Brian with the following proposals, subject to further responses from our members:
- A recommendation for interim compensation should be made
- An interim payment of no less than £100,000 should be paid to all those infected and affected currently registered on UK infected blood support schemes
- Sir Robert’s proposed uplift of current support schemes to 5% above national median earnings (net) should be implemented
- An interim payment of no less than £100,000 should be paid to the estates of anyone who has previously been registered on a support scheme, such as the Skipton Fund or the Macfarlane Trust.
We have based these proposals on responses to our recent survey on compensation as well as comments made at a webinar on this issue held on 13 July. We have also taken into account the views of members who have contacted us privately, either by email or telephone.
We believe that an easy-to-administer scheme targeting those already registered for support, or the estates of those who have previously been registered for support, offers the best chance of being approved and delivered quickly. There is great and urgent need among many people in these groups and we welcome Sir Brian’s consideration of an early recommendation on compensation. We will continue to push for an overall compensation package for all those infected and affected which is fair and reflects the great suffering that has been endured.
The Cabinet Office commissioned Sir Robert to identify a workable and fair compensation framework for people infected and affected by contaminated blood and blood products which he submitted in March 2022, after consultation. His report was published in June but despite pledging to publish the government’s response at the same time, there has been no word from Paymaster General Michael Ellis, who has ministerial responsibility for the inquiry. There have been numerous demands from campaigners, including the Haemophilia Society, for the government to be open with those infected and affected about its plans for compensation, which have so far been ignored. We do not know yet whether the government intends to pay compensation.
If you have any comments or suggestions on the issue of an interim compensation payment please email [email protected] by noon on Friday 22 July.