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Government Announces Compensation For Infected Blood Victims To Start This Year

Campaigners for the infected blood inquiry assembled outside parliament on the day its findings were published (Alamy)

3 min read

The government has announced a "comprehensive compensation" scheme for victims of the infected blood scandal, which will begin to rolled out this year.

Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General John Glen said in a statement to the House of Commons that the government is establishing an infected blood compensation authority and arm's length body to administer the compensation scheme, as well as setting up a shadow body and interim CEO.

He said that payments would be made before the end of the year – so likely before a general election takes place –  and that further interim payments of £210,000 will be made within 90 days to those who are infected.

The minister did not set out the likely cost of the entire scheme, as this would depend on the number of those who will need to be compensated. "Where we need to pay, we will pay, we will minimise delays," he added. 

Compensation will not only extend to direct victims of contaminated blood, but also to the estates of those who have died and those indirectly affected.

"It's not just the harm caused by the infections that requires compensation, it's also the wrong suffered by those affected that must also be compensated for," Glen said.

"So when a person with an eligible infection has been accepted onto the scheme, their affected loved ones will be able to apply for compensation in their own right. That means parents, siblings, children, friends and family who have acted as carers of those who are infected are all eligible to claim."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued an "unequivocal" apology on Monday to infected blood victims after the damning findings of a major multi-year inquiry were published.

A 2,527-page report by inquiry chair Sir Brian Langstaff stated that there were "systematic" collective and individual failures at the heart of the crisis, which saw more than 30,000 patients injected with blood and blood products contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis C during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, leading to the deaths of more than 3,000 people have died.

Anyone already registered with one of the existing infected blood support schemes will automatically be considered eligible for compensation, and Glen confirmed that the expectation is that final payments will start "before the end of the year".

Saying that he recognised members of the infected blood community "are still dying each week from their infections", the minister announced that the government will be making further interim payments ahead of the establishment of the full scheme.

Any payments made to those eligible will be exempt from income, capital gains and inheritance tax, and Glen said payments would be "flexible" by either being provided as a lump sum or regular payments.

Sir Robert Francis, who advised on how the compensation scheme should be structured, was announced as the Interim Chair of the new compensation authority. 

Glen said that over the next few weeks, the infected blood community will be consulted on the proposed scheme before its terms are set in regulations.

"Today, I can only hope with the inquiry's report published and with our firm commitment to compensate those touched by the scandal, the infected blood community knows that their cries for justice have been heard," Glen said.

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