Agenda item

Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme update

Non key

All wards

 

Councillor Lib Peck, Leader of the Council

Jackie Belton, Strategic Director for Corporate Resources

 

Contacts for enquiries:

 

Christina Thompson, Director of Finance, 0207 926 5302, cthompson3@lambeth.gov.uk

Mark Nicolson, Head of Risk & Insurance, 0207 926 9305, mnicolson@lambeth.gov.uk

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Lib Peck, introduced the report and said the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme was designed to be swift, compassionate and non-adversarial. The Scheme was the first of its type in England and Wales, and included independent support for survivors as well as access to independent legal representation funded by the council. Any appeals would be heard by an independent multi-disciplinary panel. She noted that there were more applicants from the 1960s than 1970s, and that there had been fewer disabled and Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) applicants than expected. It was therefore essential that the council continued to extend its outreach work.

The Head of Risk and Insurance, Mark Nicolson, provided a summary of the report and said the amount of applications was generally in line with expectations. 552 applications had been received during the first six months of the scheme’s operation and 343 Harm’s Way Payments (HWPs) had been made, totalling £3,223,500 (the figure had since risen beyond £5m). 50 offers of Individual Redress had been made with three applicants having accepted their offer, with one interim payment made. Individual Redress Payments (IRPs) took longer to process but as at today’s date more than £300,000 had been paid out with over £1m currently under offer to survivors. The majority of applicants had opted to receive independent legal representation and officers had engaged constructively with the solicitors, receiving valuable feedback on how to improve the process for applicants.

Officers also provided information on the Equalities Impact Assessment and noted that the commitment to equalities had impacted greatly on the design of the Scheme. They confirmed that there was an underrepresentation of both BAME and disabled applicants, with no applications received from previous residents of Lambeth’s former specialist residential children’s units. Members were advised that a range of measures were in place to support applicants with disabilities, as well as those with language and literary difficulties. Outreach work was ongoing.

The Director of Legal Services and HR, Alison McKane, provided a brief update on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), of which Lambeth was a core participant. The Inquiry had public hearings scheduled up until March 2019 and was expected to conclude all hearings in 2020. The date of Lambeth’s main hearing had yet to be confirmed, however a preliminary hearing would take place on 31st October 2018 to hear submissions about case studies that would inform the investigation.

The Chair invited Councillor Scott Ainslie (Green Party) to address Cabinet. He thanked officers for the briefing received earlier that day and said it would be helpful to hear an applicant’s first-hand experience of the Scheme. He was sceptical about the process and felt that more could be done to support survivors along the way. He noted the amount of HWPs and raised concerns about the low number of accepted IRPs. Survivors had also expressed doubt with Oxleas Mental Health Trust and refused the support.

In response, Councillor Peck said that the comments about Oxleas Mental Trust were inaccurate but that further explanation was required regarding the low number of IRPs. Officers explained that there had been capacity issues with some of the claimants’ solicitors but that there was indication of a pipeline of IRPs still to come forward. They also confirmed that Oxleas Mental Health Trust was providing regular services to over 200 people, some of which now lived overseas.

Cabinet members welcomed the update and raised a number of queries. In response, officers provided the following information:

Most of the cases of abuse were historic and presented no immediate safeguarding concerns. Despite this, the council would take immediate action to engage with the criminal justice system if required.

The Independent Review Panel would soon meet for the first time and had been asked to make lengthy judgements on the first few cases. Officers were also engaged in an ongoing dialogue with claimant solicitors and both actions would help to refine the process, improving the experience for applicants.

Officers were exploring a variety of ways to improve outreach and encourage BAME and disabled applicants. This would include non-media advertising and engagement with stakeholders such as NAPAC.

96% of the money spent on the Redress Scheme so far had gone to applicants.

Applicants with rejected claims were always advised of their right to appeal and sign-posted to other organisation that might be able to assist with their situation.

Access to the counselling services was not dependent on making an application 

The Chair then thanked officers for their considerable work facilitating the Redress Scheme.

It was RESOLVED, that

1)    Cabinet note the contents of the report. 

2)    Cabinet note the revised EQIA and in particular the adjustments made to ensure improved access to the Scheme for applicants with certain protected characteristics.

3)    Cabinet to receive a report in March 2019 to consider the first year operation of the scheme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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