Purpose of the Redress for survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021 ("the Act")
The Act establishes a financial redress scheme for survivors of historical child abuse in relevant residential care settings in Scotland, and, where eligible, their next of kin. The main purpose of the scheme is to acknowledge and provide tangible recognition of the harm suffered as a result of historical child abuse whilst residing in a relevant care setting in Scotland. The scheme will also provide access to non-financial redress - such as acknowledgement, apology and support, and it will sit alongside existing measures that the Scottish Government has put in place for survivors of historical child abuse.
This impact assessment also covers secondary legislation.
The secondary legislation includes:
- The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care)(Form and Content of Waiver etc.) (Scotland) Regulations 2021
- The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care)(Reimbursement of Costs and Expenses) (Scotland) Regulations 2021
- The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care)(Payment of Legal Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2021
- The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care)(Exceptions to Eligibility) (Scotland) Regulations 2021
- The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2021
|Version||Details of update||Version complete by||Completion Date|
|v1.0||Introduction of Bill||Patsy Kay||13 August 2020|
|v2.0||Updates following Royal Assent including amendments made to the Bill throughout the parliamentary passage and to include and reflect the impact of the relevant secondary legislation.||Patsy Kay||20 October 2021|
Potential impacts of the Act and secondary legislation
The below information sets out the issues that have been identified, what kind of impact this has (direct/indirect), who the impact affects, and the mitigations we have put in place to prevent negative impacts from affecting the Highlands and Islands communities.
1. Direct Impacts
1.1 Accessibility - translation to Gaelic
This impacts applicants to the scheme.
- In the Highlands and Islands communities, Gaelic is still spoken, with it being the first language for some. We will ensure that all information, application forms and services (e.g. legal advice) are available in Gaelic for those who require it.
1.2 Survivor population in the Highlands and Islands
This impacts survivors.
- Scotland has a history of "boarding out" children to foster parents in the Highlands and Islands communities. At times the numbers have been significant, for example between 5849-6385 children were cared for in this way between 1952 and 1969. Some children may have settled in the area they were placed and may be eligible to apply to the scheme. The potential number of applicants in this context is unknown but many of the relevant care settings included in the eligibility criteria were based in the Highlands and Islands.
- There will be a robust engagement strategy for the launch of the scheme, which will continue until the closure of the scheme. Fair and equal engagement will be ensured across the country, utilising local networks where possible to spread the message.
1.3 Access to counselling services (and other wider support)
This impacts survivors and those delivering and accessing existing services.
- Within the Act, we reference the intention to provide support and counselling for applicants. As part of the development of this wider support offer, we are exploring the possibility of introducing a phone counselling service for survivors, which could reduce geographical issues for island community survivors.
- We will assist survivors in accessing local services which may be most appropriate for them, including access to financial help.
- We are actively engaging with relevant organisations to understand current capacity in the system and will work to address any anticipated problems or gaps in access to services.
1.4 Access to legal advice
This impacts applicants to the scheme.
- Funding for applicants to obtain independent legal advice is a key element of the redress scheme to allow applicants to make informed decisions when considering an offer for redress payment. All applicants will be encouraged to seek legal advice, especially when considering signing the waiver to accept an offer of redress.
- Applicants will have the choice of who they hire, allowing them to access whoever they deem most appropriate for them.
- If there is not an existing service locally we will provide reimbursement for reasonable costs incurred.
- We will offer clear guidance to survivors in relation to the rules surrounding the payment of legal fees, ensuring that all information is available in Gaelic for those who require it.
1.5 Access to the public body or medical / psychological assessments
This impacts survivors.
- Some applicants may be invited to give oral evidence to Redress Scotland. Applicants may also want to receive a medical or psychological assessment to support their application. If this cannot be done within their local area, then any reasonable costs incurred will be reimbursed to the applicant.
- The Regulations made under section 91 of the Act sets out the types and limits of the costs which may be reimbursed to both applicants and potential applicants to the scheme. Further guidance will detail other costs which may be considered reasonable under the scheme.
2. Indirect Impact
2.1 Risk of existing services closing
This impacts the general community, those accessing existing services and those providing existing services.
- Relevant organisations within the Highlands and Islands may be faced with civil action on the part of survivors, the results of which could make a significant impact on the organisation through costs and damages, and upon services as a result.
- These organisations will have an opportunity to make a fair and meaningful financial contribution to the scheme. Organisations may be able to mitigate the potential impact of action relating to historical abuse, and crystallise risk they may otherwise face.
- In an effort to make the delivery of the contribution affordable and sustainable for the scheme contributor, whilst ensuring the contribution remains fair and meaningful, section 15(2) of the Act requires the Scottish Ministers to take in to account the circumstances which make a contribution affordable for an organisation, and any circumstances which may impact the ability of the organisation to continue to deliver their current services. Therefore, the provision of fair and meaningful financial contributions does not seek to directly affect the provision of services, but rather to offer an appropriate, proportionate and positive opportunity to address the harms of the past.
- Engagement is ongoing with COSLA, Social Work Scotland and other relevant organisations in relation to the indirect impact the scheme may have on their services. The redress scheme may have a significant impact on the workload of social work departments (e.g. subject access requests from applicants to the scheme or survivors of abuse seeking support or assistance from local authority services) and may result in the need to reprioritise resources. The Scottish Government will monitor indirect impacts via its ongoing partnership work with COSLA.