Session 2003 -04
5 May 2004
The Compensation Agency: Publication of Report
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee today published its report into the efficiency and effectiveness of the Compensation Agency in Northern Ireland. The Report looks specifically at the role of the Compensation Agency in:
supporting the victims of violent crime by providing compensation for serious injuries and financial loss;
sustaining the confidence of the community by providing compensation for physical damage and consequential loss arising from criminal damage to property; and
providing compensation to those who suffer loss from action taken under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Commenting on the report the
Rt Hon Michael Mates MP, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said:
“The introduction of the new Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in 2002 posed considerable challenges for the Agency and there were teething problems. However, these have generally been resolved and the number of decisions taken by the Agency have started to exceed the number of claims received. We were pleased to note that the Agency is making good progress in tackling a backlog of claims under the old scheme.
“However, we were extremely concerned to find there has been significant abuse of the Terrorism Act compensation scheme since its introduction in 2001. The number of claims increased significantly at a time when we would have expected a reduction because of a greatly reduced operational deployment of the Army. We believe this abuse may have resulted in the loss of more than £5 million from public funds. While new, robust, claims procedures and improved liaison with the Army have resulted in a dramatic reduction in claims from an average of 633 to 67 per month, the Government must continue to review compensation schemes to ensure that any irregularities are detected and resolved at an early stage.
“We were also deeply disturbed that flaws in the law have resulted in some child sexual abuse victims being unintentionally debarred from claiming compensation. Our report urges the Minister to take steps to remove this barrier as a matter of urgency.
“The Compensation Agency undertakes an important role in the life of the community in Northern Ireland. We are satisfied that the Agency is undertaking the job it was set up to do. We expect that the improving security situation will have a significant impact on the future work of the Agency. In particular, the overall level of claims is expected to fall further as a result of these improvements. The Committee therefore expects the Government to keep the Agency’s future role and structure under close review.”
1. The Committee’s Fourth Report of Session 2003-04, The Compensation Agency (HC 271), together with oral and written evidence will be published at
11.00 am on Wednesday 5 May 2004.
2. Advance embargoed copies of the Report will be available on request to those who submitted evidence in this inquiry, and from the Press Gallery, House of Commons on Tuesday 4 May from 11.00am.
3. On the day of publication limited copies can be obtained upon request from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at 11.00 am. The Report can also be viewed on the Committee’s website from approximately 3.30pm on the day of publication at:
4. Copies of the report will automatically be sent to witnesses who gave oral or written evidence to the inquiry.
5. Copies of the report will also be available on the day of publication at the Stationery Office in Belfast (02890 238451).
6. On this occasion a press conference will
not be held
7. Committee staff may be contacted on 020 7219 2172