£150m fund set aside for financial compensation and emotional support
The Church of England has announced plans to launch a scheme that will provide compensation and support to people who experienced physical, emotional or spiritual abuse by someone representing the Church.
This announcement follows the recommendations made in an interim report on the Church of England and Wales by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) back in October 2020, and is expected to come into force next year (2024).
The proposed scheme would run for an initial five years, and while it will make financial payments, it will also offer survivors access to a range of wider support and, where possible, an apology from the institution where the abuse took place.
On The Church of England’s website, it says the purpose of the redress scheme is demonstrate in ‘tangible and practical ways’ that the Church is truly sorry for its past failings relating to safeguarding.
Hywel Thomas, a specialist abuse law expert gave is view that while that they have the potential to provide abuse survivors with both financial and emotional recognition of the abuse they endured, he is also concerned about the length of time it will take to ‘go live’.
Specialist Abuse Solicitor Hywel gives his view on the redress scheme.
"The Church of England has said that this redress scheme is about more than money, and that financial payments will be offered alongside therapeutic, spiritual and emotional support, as well as acknowledgment of wrongdoing and an apology. From what has been published to date, this announcement looks like a positive step in the right direction for anyone who suffered abuse at the hands of someone who was representing the Church. The scope of the scheme though is positive. While financial compensation awarded to abuse survivors is vitally important in helping them to rebuild their lives, but for many of our clients the money means very little if it is received without an apology, or any recognition of the trauma that they have endured"
Expert Abuse Solicitor
The Church has said that a draft measure of the scheme is expected to be brought before the Synod (the General Assembly of the church) in November 2023 or February 2024. After this it will need to be approved by Parliament.
We welcome this announcement. However, the current timescale means that the scheme will not actually commence for another 18 months at the earliest. And that is assuming the proposal is accepted by the Synod, and then placed before parliament.
However, it has already taken several years to reach this point, and there is still no guarantee of when the scheme will go live. Until the redress scheme is officially in place those individuals who suffered abuse by someone representing the Church remain in limbo.
Every effort needs to go into pushing it through parliament as quickly as possible, and we will be following the process and progress of the scheme carefully, with a view to seeing how we can support our clients to access the justice that they deserve.
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