Since the regulations for a Victims’ Payment Scheme were laid in Parliament, we have received daily enquiries about the outworking of the Scheme. We have brought these questions and answers together to provide as much information as we can.
This scheme has been developed to provide those living with severe and permanent disablement caused by physical or psychological injury in a Troubles-related incident, with payments in:
a. The Scheme is intended for those most severely and permanently injured (physically and/or psychologically) by a conflict-related incident(s).
b. An assessment process will determine the degree of injury once the Scheme becomes operational. The assessed degree of that disablement must meet a threshold of 14%. The Commission and VSS are unable to determine or comment on the degree of injury of any individual.
c. The incident resulting in the injury must have either taken place in the UK or Europe. If the incident took place somewhere in Europe besides the UK, the applicant must have been one of the below:
1. A British Citizen
2. Born in Northern Ireland and at the time of their birth had at least one parent who was a British or Irish Citizen (or was otherwise entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on how long they could be resident for)
3. Outside the United Kingdom in service of the Crown or accompanying a close relative of a person serving the Crown outside the United Kingdom
d. If an individual lives in, and was injured in the Republic of Ireland, the NIO regulations only apply as at point ‘c’ (so do not include those living in AND injured in ROI).
The Commission for Victims and Survivors has, and continues to, raise the need for a similar scheme in the Republic of Ireland with the Irish Government, however, at this stage the Irish Government have not committed to passing any similar legislation. If you are one of the individuals who falls into this category and would like to share your experience, please make contact with the Commission.
e. The date of the incident must have been on or after 1 January 1966 but before 12 April 2010.
f. An application will need to be made when the Scheme becomes operational. The Scheme was due to open for applications at the end of May 2020, however, this has not happened.
The Department of Justice is responsible for implementing the Scheme.
As the Victims’ Payment Scheme will not be administered by the Commission or the Victims and Survivors Service, neither organisation will be overseeing applications or payments to individuals, and cannot determine an individual’s eligibility for the Scheme.
No, individuals who currently receive support from the VSS will not be automatically registered for this payment scheme. It will be a separate and independent application process for those most severely and permanently injured.
This scheme is proposed for those who have been severely and permanently injured (either physically or psychologically) and neither the VSS nor the Commission can advise on eligibility or specific assessment arrangements for any individual.
When the Victim’s Payment Scheme is opened by the Department of Justice, the Commission will provide information on our website on how individuals can apply for the Scheme.
The Commission and VSS will not be sending out application forms for this Scheme. Individuals who believe they are eligible will have to complete a separate application to the Department of Justice when the Scheme opens.
If you are eligible for a victims’ payment, the amount you receive will depend on the 'degree of disablement' you have experienced which will be determined by an assessment.
Payments will be made on a sliding scale, depending on severity of your injury.
This will be based on the approach already used in other schemes – such as the Industrial Injuries Scheme – and will be determined only by qualified health care professionals.
If you have experienced multiple injuries, the cumulative impact of those injuries will be assessed, to ensure that the total impact is considered.
Proposed annual rates of payment will range from just under £2,000 to just under £10,000.
For those over 60 or who are terminally ill, the scheme includes an option to elect for a lump sum rather than annual payments. It will be important that you have financial advice for that decision, and this advice will be made available to you.
It is possible this will have an impact on how much you will receive.
If you have received compensation for a Troubles-related injury in the past, a threshold based calculation will be undertaken.
If prior compensation received exceeds the threshold, the Board will have the authority to consider whether the amount to which you will be entitled under this Scheme should be adjusted, and by how much.
Further information on how previous compensation would affect payments is detailed here in the regulations.
No this Scheme will not be means-tested.
Victims and survivors who are eligible for payments will receive them on a regular basis for the rest of their lives. Awards will be backdated to the date of the Stormont House Agreement, 23 December 2014 – this part will be paid as a lump sum.
Although the timeframe for the Scheme covers Troubles-related incidents or injuries that occurred between the years January 1966 and April 2010, an Independent Panel (The Board) will have authority to determine whether anybody injured in an incident outside of this timeframe should be considered eligible for payments under the Scheme.
We believe that not all applicants will need to go through a face to face assessment, but that some will.
Until the outworkings of the Scheme are finalised, we will not have any clearer indications on the details of the assessment process.
When the Scheme does open for applications, organisations such as VSS and its community partners will help, where possible, to collate available information to reduce the necessity for face to face assessments.
The Scheme also provides for an interim assessment and interim award in limited circumstances where necessary (i.e. were the permanence of disablement has not been determined).
The Departments of Justice and Health, General Practitioners and the assessment body are currently designing a process so that an applicant’s appropriate medical records can be accessed with consent. You do not need to contact your GP to receive your notes. Further guidance will be provided when the Scheme opens for application.
It is proposed to allow carers, spouses, civil partners or co-habiting partners of those who have died since the Stormont House Agreement (Dec 2014) and who would have been eligible for payments through the scheme, to be entitled to receive ten years’ worth of support through the scheme.
It is also proposed that carers, spouses, civil partners or co-habiting partners of those who were seriously injured in a Troubles/Conflict related incident and died in the period 2004-2014 will be able to receive the outstanding balance of payments that they would have received if the scheme had been open in 2014 e.g. a spouse whose loved one died in 2012 would be entitled to 8 years’ worth of payments (2012-2020).
The scheme also provides for an injured person to leave 10 years’ worth of ongoing payments to a carer or loved one.
The Commission provided policy advice to Government on a pension for the severely injured which has since informed this Victims’ Payment Scheme.
This Scheme is now in the hands of government and the Commission will have no direct role in administering it but can keep you up to date on its status via our website and mailing list. If you would like this to happen, please contact us to provide your contact details.
The Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) provides support and services to victims and survivors in the areas of health and wellbeing, social support, welfare and advocacy through a network of community based providers.
The VSS are not directly involved in the Victims' Payment, but will look at how best to help ensure information held by them can be used to ensure as smooth a process as possible for those involved. They are also working to put support in place at their funded community organisations to help victims and survivors better understand the Scheme and the application process once it is in operation.
VSS issued all Individual Needs Programme payments for the 2020/21 financial year as normal in April 2020 to all eligible clients.
Future years’ payments for those eligible for a Victims’ Payment scheme will be a policy decision. However, the payment scheme has been designed to ensure that those eligible will never receive any less than they currently receive from VSS, and most likely they will receive more than they currently receive.
Additionally, all other Health and Wellbeing support and services are still available to you through the VSS.
You can read the legislation online at the following link: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/103/contents/made
The VSS are there to support victims and survivors affected by these issues either through their Individual Needs Programme, or through their many funded community organisations.
If you feel you could benefit from help or support, please contact the VSS on (028) 9027 9100 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.