As one of her final acts as Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, wrote to the 12 infected and affected campaigners she has been in correspondence with to provide an update “on the progress of discussions between the Devolved Administrations to consider how to improve parity of financial support for infected and affected people across the UK.”
- The integrity of the four national schemes is to be respected.
- All four nations are committed to achieving parity of support.
- No beneficiary of any of the schemes should be made worse off by any changes.
She then acknowledges the complexity of the situation. For example, parity of financial payment is not the same as parity in how beneficiaries are assessed or of other elements of support, such as counselling.
The Ministers also decided that further evaluation is needed to resolve the spectrum of possible interpretations of what is meant by parity. The Cabinet Office will now contact the 12 campaigners, and the Infected Blood Inquiry itself, about the best way to address these complexities.
Commenting on the letter, Dan Farthing-Sykes, CEO of Haemophilia Scotland said,
“From the point of view of those who rely on the Scottish Infected Support Scheme (SIBSS) it is important that Ministers from across the UK have recognised the integrity of the schemes. There are elements of the Scottish scheme, such as the widows’ pension payment or the self-categorisation for those in the chronic category of support (stage 1), which it’s very important that we keep.
“It’s equally important that all the nations have accepted the need for parity and that no changes should leave anyone worse off. Making sure that nobody is worse off as a result of any changes has been a fundamental principle of the development of the SIBSS from the beginning.
“However, three key questions remain outstanding; what is meant by parity, will there be new money from the Treasury to make it possible, and how long will people have to wait for improvements?
“The harrowing evidence being given by the brave infected and affected people at the Infected Blood Inquiry oral hearings in Cardiff makes it crystal clear why there is no time to lose.”