Terror compensation system ‘broken’ and claims process ‘unfair’, say survivors

Terror attack survivors have condemned the UK’s compensation scheme in a new report.

Support network Survivors Against Terror (SAT) has called for change after it found that more than half of those who responded to a survey think the process is unfair and unreasonable.

More than 130 survivors from 11 different terror attacks, including the Fishmonger’s Hall stabbings in London in 2019 and the Manchester Arena suicide bombing in 2017, completed the poll on the Government’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

The CICA handles compensation claims from people who have suffered physical or mental injuries as a result of violent crime in England, Scotland and Wales, and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice.

The report found 68% thought the process was unfair and unreasonable, with 9% thinking the opposite, and 62% did not feel treated with respect and empathy – compared with only 17% who felt they were.

More than half of survivors said they were unable to speak to someone from CICA for help and some 60% did not feel it was easy to submit their compensation claim, and that the information provided by CICA was unclear or not easy to understand.

Brendan Cox (pictured), co-founder of SAT and co-author of the report, said: “CICA is broken. There can be no other conclusion from the data and the testimonies we have gathered.

“An organisation that is supposed to be helping survivors recover and rebuild is instead consistently doing them harm. If the organisation had poor processes and procedures but scored well on other areas, there would be hope for reform. There is not.

“While our starting point was not to recommend removing responsibility for survivors of terror attacks from CICA, it has become the inescapable conclusion.

“Survivors deserve better. They have been attacked, not because of who they are, but as proxies for the British state; therefore, the British state has a responsibility to ensure that they are supported. Today it is failing in that duty.”

Following the attack at Fishmonger’s Hall in 2019 when Usman Khan killed two people, the Government announced it was committed to a new Survivors’ Charter which would guarantee the rights of survivors to mental health and legal support, although SAT claims a draft has yet to be published.

Sandra Loining, co-author of the report said: “The public will be rightly appalled by how survivors are being treated. While the Government has been big on promises of change, nothing has been delivered and it’s victims who are paying the price.”

Comments in the survey claimed some are still waiting for compensation years later.

One Manchester Arena attack survivor said: “After five years I am still waiting for CICA to settle my claim, they lost all my notes.”

The SAT has recommended the creation of a new compensation authority overseen by the Home Office, with other recommendations calling for transparency in how awards are calculated and an ability to track applications through an online portal.

A Government spokesman said: “While no amount of compensation can make up for the ordeal suffered by victims of terror, it is right survivors get the support they need, including through the publicly-funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme that has paid out more than £158 million to victims of violent crime in the last year alone.

“This includes £4.6 million for victims of terrorism since 2017, with a dedicated team helping victims of the Manchester Arena attack receive the compensation to which they are entitled.

“But we know more must be done, which is why the Government is reviewing the support available, to better address victims’ needs.”

The Government also confirmed that 836 of the 859 applications in connection with the Manchester Arena bombing have been finalised, with 436 of the bereaved or injured receiving criminal injuries compensation. Of those applications, 13 have been made within the last six months.

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