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Declarations of Pecuniary Interest
Under Cabinet Rule 1.5.2, where any Cabinet Member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.
There were none.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2019.
RESOLVED: That the meeting held on 22nd July 2019 be signed and agreed as an accurate record of proceedings.
Councillor Jack Hopkins – Leader of the Council
Report Authorised by: Christina Thompson, Interim Strategic Director for Finance & Investment
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The report was introduced by Leader of the Council who highlighted that:
This report followed on from previous cabinet updates on the Scheme, reported at six month intervals since its introduction, and provided an update on the Scheme as of the end of June 2019.
The Scheme had been operational for eighteen months and some of the main points contained within the report were noted:
· A total of 1,250 applications had been received since the Scheme was introduced.
· Over £16m had been paid in redress directly to applicants.
· 83% of the money spent had been paid directly to applicants
Councillor Hopkins further stated that:
There had been difficulties encountered in the course of setting up and running the Scheme as this was a challenging issue and as the first council in the country to bring forward such a scheme.
He advised that the Council took on board feedback from the experience of applicants and their representatives and made improvements to the Scheme’s operational procedures which included:
· Reviewing all open applications to see if they can be progressed, identifying potential processing delays, removing these and liaising with applicant solicitors to move cases forward.
· Introducing interim redress payments to eligible survivors to ensure that they receive some of the compensation sooner.
· Appointing an independent external expert to gain insight into survivors’ experiences of engaging with the Scheme, and to examine what further work can be undertaken to encourage and build confidence in others who had not yet come forward to apply.
Concerns were raised at the last cabinet meeting about the effectiveness and approach taken to the making of redress settlement offers and the settlement of applications. Taking this on board, the Council has instructed a barrister with expertise in sexual abuse litigation to undertake a review of a random selection of settled applications. Further details of the findings were detailed in the report.
Councillor Hopkins recommended that the Scheme be extended by a further two years with a revised closing date of 1 January 2022 for applications to be received.
In response to questions from Cabinet Member, officers advised that:
· Individual redress payments took longer to process as more information and evidence was needed in order to progress.
· Of the total amount paid in redress and legal costs over 83% has been paid directly to applicants in compensation.
· 169 letters of apology have been prepared and sent to applicants with 13 applicants so far having taken up the offer of a meeting with a senior representative of the Council.
· Advertise the scheme in both national, targeted and specialist publications in recognition that many affected individuals live outside London in other parts of the UK.
· Applicants to the scheme would be provided a choice of where they could access counselling which was through Oxleas or closer to where the applicant lived.
· The Council had worked with the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) and reviewed all of our communications to ensure it was easier to understand some of the details. ... view the full minutes text for item 3.