Compensation rule abolished allowing victims to reapply

Ministers have scrapped unfair ‘same roof’ rule which denied compensation for some victims of violent crime.

  • victims previously denied awards can reapply for compensation as of today
  • part of wider review of Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme already underway

From today (13 June 2019) more victims of violent crime will be able to apply for compensation as new legislation comes into force abolishing the longstanding ‘same-roof’ rule.

It will mean that anyone previously denied compensation under the rule, or put off from coming forward because of it, will be able to make fresh applications.

The so-called ‘same roof’ rule, blocked victims of violent crime from receiving compensation if the attacker was a family member they were living with at the time of the incident.

It was amended in 1979 to not prevent future victims accessing compensation, but as common with many changes to the law this was not made retrospective. This has led to some victims of crimes which occurred before the law change missing out on compensation.

Ministers vowed to remove the rule as part of the government’s Victims Strategy launched last year, recognising the rule’s unfair impact and to allow greater access to compensation.

Victims will now have 2 years to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), with a dedicated team set up to provide extra support with the claim process – including a named contact to ensure applicants do not have to repeat their traumatic experiences to multiple people.

Victims Minister Edward Argar said:

The ‘same-roof’ rule was unfair and we recognise the impact this had on victims whose applications were refused simply because they lived with their attacker.

Whilst no amount of compensation can make up for the immense suffering caused by such appalling crimes, by abolishing the rule we are widening access to much needed support and continue to review the entire scheme so it better supports victims.

“Improving support for victims is at the very heart of this government’s work, and through our Victims Strategy we are determined to improve their experience at every stage of the justice system.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme awards taxpayer-funded payments to victims injured as a result of violent crime, paying out over £150 million to victims in 2017/18.

Victims applying or reapplying for compensation will have to meet the Scheme’s other eligibility criteria to be made an award.

An ongoing review of the Scheme, looking at a range of issues raised by victims, including eligibility rules, the definition of ‘violent crime’, and the type of injuries that are covered, will report back later this year.

Gabrielle Shaw, NAPAC’s CEO, said:

We are delighted that the ‘same roof’ rule has been scrapped. Given that most child abuse happens within the family and children are likely to have had no choice but to live under the same roof as their abuser, this rule was rightly viewed as deeply unfair and punitive.

It is impossible to measure the damage done by childhood abuse, but for many survivors the impacts affect their health, their adult relationships and their earning potential throughout their lives.

President of the Law Society of England and Wales Christina Blacklaws said:

This change is a welcome correction to a historical anomaly that was causing significant injustice. We are very pleased the government has made this change, as a result of which more victims of historical child abuse will be able to claim recompense for the traumas they suffered.

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