Financial redress for historical child abuse in care: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to the pre-legislative consultation on the detailed design of a statutory redress scheme for historical child abuse in care.

1. Introduction

1.1 The Scottish Government has committed to introducing a statutory financial redress scheme for victims / survivors of abuse in care. This will form one part of a wider package of reparations.

1.2 The Scottish Government has made it clear that the development of a redress scheme should be informed by the voices of survivors of historical abuse in care and has already supported significant independently-led consultation and engagement work (see paragraph 1.5). Building on this earlier work, the Scottish Government issued a public consultation inviting more detailed views on its proposals for the establishment of a financial redress scheme. This report, which was prepared by a team of independent consultants, provides an analysis of the responses to that consultation.

Policy context

1.3 Recent years have seen a range of initiatives aimed at shedding light on, acknowledging and responding to historical experiences of abuse of children in care in Scotland. These have included:

  • An apology on behalf of the Scottish people made by the then First Minister on 1 December 2004, and an apology on behalf of the Scottish Government made by the Deputy First Minister on 23 October 2018
  • The SHRC Human Rights Framework for Justice and Remedies for Historic Child Abuse (2010)
  • The Action Plan on Justice for Victims of Historic Child Abuse (2014)
  • The establishment of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in 2015
  • The Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016
  • The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Scotland Act 2017, which removes the three-year time limit for bringing civil action for child abuse
  • The establishment of the National Confidential Forum, which provides an acknowledgement function for survivors of abuse in care
  • The establishment of Future Pathways, which provides personal outcomes focussed support to survivors of abuse in care.

1.4 Additionally, the Scottish Government has also sought to examine the desirability and feasibility of establishing a specific financial redress scheme for survivors of historical abuse in care.

1.5 In January 2017, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) InterAction Action Plan Review Group (IAPRG), a national stakeholder group, was asked to take forward a programme of consultation on this issue in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Looked After Children (CELCIS) at Strathclyde University. Alongside additional engagement activity with care providers and other professional groups and a review of the operation of relevant schemes in other jurisdictions, the analysis of 181 written responses to a consultation aimed at survivors helped to inform the Review Group’s recommendations on the establishment of a financial redress scheme.

1.6 Reflecting the views of almost all those who took part in the initial consultation, the Review Group proposed that a financial redress scheme should be established, as soon as possible upon completion of the necessary design work. Among other conclusions and recommendations, the Review Group called for a combination-type payment (that is, a flat-rate payment and a separate ‘individual experience’ payment that takes account of a range of factors); next-of-kin eligibility; an interim payment scheme for priority groups; and victim / survivor representation in the administration and governance of the scheme.

1.7 In October 2018, the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, accepted the main recommendation of the Review Group that a financial redress scheme should be established ‘in tangible recognition of the terrible harm that was done to children who were abused in care by those who were entrusted to look after them’.[1] In the period since, an Advance Payment Scheme has been established for those who either have a terminal illness or are aged 70 or over.[2] Meantime, the Scottish Government and relevant stakeholders have been progressing work to develop the statutory financial redress scheme, and initial plans and proposals have now been put to public consultation in order to canvass views on the detailed design of the scheme with the aim of passing legislation in the Scottish Parliament by the end of the parliamentary term in 2021.

The consultation

1.8 The consultation paper, Pre-Legislative Public Consultation on Financial Redress for Historical Child Abuse in Care, was published by the Scottish Government on 2 September 2019 and the consultation closed on 25 November 2019.

1.9 The consultation questionnaire was in two parts and contained 60 numbered questions. However, many of these questions contained multiple elements, typically comprising a closed (tick-box) question (or questions) and an open question inviting respondents to explain or elaborate on their answer. Other questions were wholly open or wholly closed. In total, the questionnaire contained 51 closed and 66 open questions.

1.10 Part 1 of the consultation questionnaire focused on the design of the redress scheme and covered (i) the definition of its purpose and principles (Question 1 and Question 2); (ii) eligibility criteria (Question 3 to Question 11); (iii) the evidence required to submit a claim, the assessment of claims and payment structures (Question 12 to Question 26); (iv) the application process (Question 27 to Question 30); (v) next-of-kin payments (Question 31 to Question 34); and (vi) financial contributions to the scheme from responsible institutions (Question 35 to Question 44). Part 2 focused on scheme administration and the need for wider reparations (Question 45 to Question 60).

1.11 The Scottish Government organised a series of activities aimed at encouraging engagement and participation among survivors. This involved the development of an awareness raising and communications strategy and direct contact with key individuals and organisations, including those working with or otherwise representing victims / survivors. In addition, six engagement and information sessions were held to secure support for the consultation process, reduce barriers to taking part, and further encourage participation. These information sessions took place with professionals working with victims / survivors as well as with victims / survivors and their support organisations. A focused input was provided by representatives of the Scottish Government but each of the survivor sessions also had a follow-up session without the presence of the Scottish Government in order to allow participants to consider matters independently. Further details about this engagement and information activity is presented in Annex 1.

About the analysis

1.12 This report is based on a robust and systematic analysis of all responses to the consultation and aims to ensure that the voices and views of survivors and all other respondents are represented clearly and accurately.

1.13 Frequency analysis was undertaken in relation to all the closed (tick-box) questions in the consultation questionnaire and the findings are shown in tables throughout this report.

1.14 Qualitative analysis was carried out in relation to the comments submitted in response to each question. The aim of the qualitative analysis was to identify main themes and the full range of views submitted in response to each question or group of questions, and to explore areas of agreement and disagreement in views between different groups of respondents. Occasionally, respondents made comments but did not answer the initial tick-box question – the points made by these respondents were largely the same as the points made by other respondents, and their views are not, generally, considered separately.

1.15 Note that not all respondents used the consultation questionnaire (online or offline) to submit their responses to the consultation. Some submitted letters; others submitted separate (Word or pdf) documents which followed the general structure of the consultation questionnaire. The content of these responses was read alongside the relevant individual consultation questions and, where the respondents clearly stated in their written comments a reply to a tick-box question, the response to that tick-box question was imputed. The tables throughout this report include these imputed responses.

1.16 As with all consultations, the views submitted and presented in this report are not necessarily representative of those of the wider public or, in this case, those of the victim / survivor community as a whole. Anyone can submit their views to a consultation, and individuals (and organisations) who have a keen interest in a topic – and the time, ability and capacity to respond – are more likely to participate in a consultation than those who do not. This self-selection means that the views of consultation participants cannot be generalised to the wider population. For this reason, the main focus in analysing consultation responses is not to identify how many or what proportion of respondents held particular views, but rather to understand the range of views expressed.

The report

1.17 The remainder of this report is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 2 presents information on the respondents to the consultation and the responses submitted.
  • Chapters 3 to 15 present an analysis of respondents’ views on the consultation questions:
    • Chapter 3 looks at the underlying purpose and principles of the proposed scheme.
    • Chapters 4 and 5 consider inclusion / exclusion criteria for the scheme and broader issues of eligibility.
    • Chapters 6 and 7 focus on evidence requirements for Stage One and Stage Two of the scheme, respectively.
    • Chapter 8 considers (i) the implications – for scheme eligibility and the amounts received – of other kinds of compensation payments, and (ii) the broader relationship between financial redress and court actions.
    • Chapter 9 focuses on the process of making an application to the scheme.
    • Chapter 10 looks at a range of issues relating to next-of-kin payments, including the overall principle of providing redress to the family of those who have died and how such arrangements might be operationalised.
    • Chapter 11 considers who should reasonably be expected to contribute to the costs of redress and how that might happen.
    • Chapters 12 and 13, respectively, examine issues relating to the proposed establishment of (i) decision-making and survivor panels and (ii) a public body to administer the scheme.
    • Chapter 14 examines the relationship between the proposed redress scheme and elements of wider reparations, while Chapter 15 looks at the relationship between redress and issues of acknowledgement, apology and support for survivors.

1.18 Annexes to the report present further details of the Scottish Government’s engagement and participation strategy for the consultation (Annex 1), a list of organisational respondents (Annex 2) and the number of responses received to individual questions (Annex 3).



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