The Leader of the Council, Councillor Lib Peck, welcomed all those in attendance and explained the purpose of the meeting. On behalf of the Council she issued a full apology to all those who had been affected by abuse in Lambeth Children’s Homes between the 1930s and 1990s. Whilst nothing could be done to right the wrongs of the past, it was the Council’s responsibility to confront its history and accept liability for its failures and the harm caused. The proposed Redress Scheme (‘the Scheme’) would enable survivors to receive the financial redress to which they were entitled, without having to incur excessive legal costs or reliving their experiences through the Court system. Survivors had already waited too long to receive justice and there was no national redress scheme yet in place.
Councillor Peck noted the difficulties encountered during the development of the Scheme, which had taken longer than previously anticipated to reach this stage. The Scheme was the first of its kind in the England and had to be both legally sound and credible enough for the Government to permit the substantial borrowing, £100 million, required to finance it. Multiple organisations and officers were thanked for their involvement and considerable work, including in particular the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) who were also thanked for their contribution. However, it was regrettable that they had not endorsed the proposals, noting the contested issue of independence. However, Councillor Peck was confident that there were sufficient safeguards for survivors in the scheme, including independent legal representation paid for by the Council and an independent appeals panel to review any disputed claims. Too many survivors had waited far too long for any redress and this would start to be put right should Cabinet approve the Scheme.
The Strategic Director for Adults and Health, Helen Charlesworth-May, provided a summary of the report and explained the key aspects including the policy framework, financial implications and equalities issues. The Scheme had taken a long time to draft but could now begin to compensate for the historic failings of the past for which the Council had apologised. It was crucial to implement the Scheme with the utmost urgency and the aim was to start making payments by March 2018.
Helen Charlesworth-May explained that the Council had not conducted an investigation into the historic failings because one was due to be carried out by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to which Lambeth had provided over 112,000 pages of documents. However, the IICSA investigation and hearings into Lambeth would not be heard before 2019/20 and therefore, so as to avoid further delay, the Council had chosen to press on and deliver the Scheme now.
A key element of the Scheme included the Harms Way Payment (HWP) which would provide compensation of up to £10,000 to former residents of the homes who were in fear of abuse through the Council’s institutional failures. Residents who suffered abuse could receive compensation of up to £125,000 in line ... view the full minutes text for item 2