Our Child Abuse Compensation department represents almost 500 survivors of abuse in Lambeth and to date has settled a high number of cases with damages reaching a total of over £15 million in redress payments for our clients. All damages received go directly to survivors. We are also able to help survivors to arrange therapy and treatment to assist recovery.
By way of background, in 2017 Lambeth council accepted that, historically, many children were psychologically, physically and sexually abused in their care. They agreed to compensate survivors through a redress scheme. This followed on from the hard work of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) and in particular the publication of a report called “Looking for a Place Called Home”.
All former residents of Lambeth children’s homes and Shirley Oaks Primary School prior to their closure in the 1980s and 1990s are eligible and the scheme includes a “Harm’s Way Payment” of up to £10,000. The Harms Way Payment aims to compensate former residents for the environment they were subjected to whilst in Lambeth children’s homes – payment does not depend upon whether or not a person was subjected to abuse whilst they were in the care of Lambeth council.
If former residents were sexually, physically, racially and/or psychologically abused then they would also be entitled to further payment/redress called an “Individual Redress Payment”.
Children who were subjected to abuse in foster placements whilst under the care of Lambeth council may also be eligible under the scheme. Where a person suffered abuse whilst in Lambeth’s care but has now died, their Estate can apply to the scheme and any compensation money will be paid to the beneficiaries of the Estate.
In addition to the redress payment, should survivors wish, Lambeth council have agreed to offer a written apology and a meeting with a senior member of the council. Other services such as counselling and signposting for advice on welfare, housing and education are also available.
Applications to the redress scheme should not be delayed. The last date for submitting applications is 01 January 2022.
What are the qualifying homes?
The children’s homes that are covered by the redress scheme are as follows:
- Shirley Oaks
- Almond House Hostel
- Angell Road
- Calais Street
- Chestnut Road/ Robson Road
- Chevington House
- Cumberlow Lodge
- Garrads Road
- Gresham Place
- Highland Road
- Ingleton House
- Ivy House/ Warham Road
- Knowle Close
- Lancester Avenue
- Lancaster Road
- Leigham Court Road
- Lorn Road
- Monkton Street
- Mount Villas
- Nottingham Road
- Rathmell Drive
- Rectory Grove/ Elaine Claire House
- Samuel House
- South Vale
- Southwood Discharge Hostel
- St Saviours
- Stephany House
- Stockwell Park
- The Elms
- Thornwick Nursery
- Tivoli Road
The Harm’s Way Payment
The Harm’s Way Payment is a payment of up to £10,000 for children who resided in a Lambeth children’s home and feared that they would be subject to abuse. This includes sexual, physical, psychological and racial abuse.
Payments are determined on a sliding scale dependent upon the period of time that a child spent in a qualifying children’s home with a maximum of £10,000 awarded to those who spent more than 6 months in a children’s home being awarded £10,000.
In the event that an applicant proceeds to the next stage of the scheme, the Individual Redress Payment, then the Harm’s Way Payment will be treated as an interim payment and therefore deducted from any final award.
From beginning to end this stage of the process usually takes 3-4 months.
The Individual Redress Payment
The Individual Redress Payment, often referred to as the second stage of the scheme, is for former residents of Lambeth children’s homes, foster placements (direct from a Lambeth children’s home) or the Shirley Oaks Primary School who suffered abuse which has led to psychiatric injury (mental ill-health). This could be physical, sexual, racial or psychological abuse. Under this part of the scheme survivors can receive up to £125,000 plus recommended treatment costs. Those who have suffered racial abuse will also receive an uplift on their damages. In a small number of cases other heads of claim have also been recoverable such as for loss of earnings. It is important to remember that we must be able to prove that any losses are directly linked to the abuse that you suffered.
This part of the scheme is much more involved as your solicitor will need to obtain all relevant records which could include medical, counselling, employment, previous convictions and any other relevant records. If available, your social care records will also need to be obtained and a summary prepared in date order (otherwise known as a chronology). A witness statement will also need to be obtained from you.
Following this you will then have the choice to be examined by a Consultant Psychiatrist who will meet with you (either face-to-face or virtually) and prepare a medical report outlining how the abuse has impacted you and, amongst other things, potentially recommending future treatment. This report will help us to determine the value of your case.
If you felt unable to proceed with a medical appointment then we can try and reach a settlement based on your account and available records but this could mean that you may under-settle your case because without a medical report we cannot determine properly the full scale of how you have been impacted. We do recognise that for many survivors speaking to medical professionals is simply too much for them to handle. It is important that you have the choice and, if you do decide to go ahead, that you are well supported by your loved ones and your legal team.
At this stage, unless we need to clarify some issues with the medical expert, we are usually in a position to try and negotiate a settlement.
If we are unable to reach a settlement at this stage we may then advise you to proceed before the Independent Appeal Panel.
The Individual Redress Payment stage of the scheme usually takes between 12-18 months.
What about deceased survivors of abuse?
The Estates of a survivor of abuse can make a claim on behalf of the Estate. To do so Letters of Administration or a Grant of Probate (dependent on whether there is a Will or not) are required along with a Death Certificate. Any damages obtained goes direct to the Administrator of the Estate who then has the responsibility to disperse the funds to the Estate’s beneficiaries.
In such circumstances the Administrator of the Estate (usually a family member such as a spouse, sibling or child) would act on behalf of the Estate and provide us with instructions.
Often, where the survivor of abuse has passed away records are not available and, of course, they cannot speak about what has happened to them or undergo a medical assessment. As such, we will obtain as many available records as possible and witness statements from family members and friends about what they knew of the abuse and the impact that this had upon the deceased. This will help us paint a picture for the medical expert who will be asked to prepare a report based on the available paperwork.
In applications for a deceased person a Harm’s Way Payment is not available. The matter would be fast-tracked straight to the Individual Redress Payment stage. This doesn’t mean that the Estate would receive any less because the Harm’s Way Payment is an interim payment and would be deducted from any final award.
It is important to note that the cost of obtaining the Letters of Administration/ Grant of Probate will not be covered by Lambeth. If you were to instruct Switalskis probate department to undertake this work we are then able to agree to deduct our fees for this work from the final damages. That way nothing will come out of the pocket of loved ones.
How can I protect my benefits?
Due to the abuse and the impact that this has had upon the lives of survivors it is often the case that, due to mental ill-health or other reasons, many of our clients are receiving benefits. One of the big worries when receiving a settlement figure is whether benefits will be impacted.
To ensure that your means-tested benefits are not impacted when receiving a settlement figure we will discuss with you whether you wish to set up a Personal Injury Trust. There is a cost to this, which is not covered by Lambeth, but it is often the case that the benefit of setting up the trust outweighs the cost. Again, the fee wouldn’t be taken until you received your damages and so you would not be out of pocket.
We will discuss your personal circumstances with you and refer you to a Financial Advisor where necessary.
The Independent Appeal Panel
The reasons that your application may proceed before the appeal panel are as follows:
- Lambeth has been unable to verify your placement – this usually happens if an applicant was a visitor under the care of another local authority or if social care records are not available
- You are unhappy with the amount that you have been offered by way of settlement, or
- Your solicitor is unhappy with the legal fees that they have been offered for handling your case
The appeal panel is independent of Lambeth and is chaired by a retired judge. Although the panel is only usually 3 people, members of the appeal panel could consist of former social workers, barristers, guardians, psychologists and children who were in local authority care as children.
It is important to note that any decision of the appeal panel is final and should therefore only be used as a last resort.
As part of the scheme Lambeth has agreed to cover the cost of reasonable legal fees. When approaching a firm of solicitors to deal with this case it is important that you make sure that they will not be charging you, as well as receiving their costs from Lambeth. At Switalskis our clients who are applicants of the scheme receive 100% of their damages.
Please note that this excludes the cost of setting up a Personal Injury Trust of obtaining Letters of Administration/ Grant of Probate which are not covered under the scheme. In these circumstances we would usually agree to deduct the cost these services from any final settlement award to ensure that you are not out of pocket.
What our clients have said about us…
Here’s what some of our clients have said about the child abuse team at Switalskis:
“From beginning to end, I was treated with dignity and respect, and any fears I had about discussing what had happened to me, or the fear of being judged, were firmly laid to rest by the solicitor in charge of my case, Amy Clowrey, who I felt went above and beyond in her approach and work, she was sensitive and thorough, and put me at ease from the outset, she made certain that the very best possible outcome was achieved for my case, never accepting anything less than what she felt was due”
“I am truly grateful for everything that Switalskis has done for me, they conducted themselves with integrity and acted on my behalf to achieve the very best for my circumstance. Thank you.”
“I would like to say a massive thank you to Rob Casey for being so kind, patient and understanding when dealing with me. He made what could have been an unbearable experience much easier to deal with.”
“My Solicitor and team were very supportive, took time to explain processes, especially as my mental health condition does not make it easy for me to communicate due to extreme anxiety.”