A change to the law that will see historical, institutional abuse, compensation payments exempted from benefit means testing in Great Britain has been welcomed.
By the end of November, more than £26 million had been paid out to survivors of historical, institutional abuse.
However, those now living in England, Scotland or Wales saw their payments taken into account for means-tested state benefits, such as housing benefits.
A change has now been made to the law to exempt those payments.
This was already the case for claimants living in Northern Ireland, but the change means this exemption will be applicable for survivors across the rest of the UK.
It has been welcomed by victims’ group, Survivors North West.
“Shortly after the HIA Redress legislation was passed in Westminster in November 2019, I noticed that the legislation had Territorial Limitation.
“While any victim or survivor of Historical Institutional Abuse could make an application to the Redress Board from March 30 2020, only those living in the North of Ireland, by comparison with England, Scotland and Wales, would have Redress payments disregarded for the purposes of means-tested State Benefit, including Housing Benefit,” he said.
“I know this caused some distress among applicants living outside the North of Ireland.
“I am pleased to announce that on Friday, after two years of meetings and lobbying, Westminster has now passed secondary legislation correcting the anomaly.
“I am grateful for the assistance of all those who worked to make this happen.
“Another hurdle overcome. I hope this brings some relief to the affected victims and survivors living outside this jurisdiction.”
The payments were a key recommendation from the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which examined allegations of child abuse at 22 residential institutions run by religious, charitable and state organisations across Northern Ireland over a 73-year period.