Following the UK-wide agreement in July 2019 that disparities in levels of support for people infected and affected by contaminated blood and blood products should be addressed and the meeting between the UK Government and campaigners in January 2020, the Paymaster General, The Rt. Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, has today issued a statement in the House of Commons.
Changes were announced to all four national schemes in the UK. However, from a Scottish perspective there were two main elements to the announcement.
Changes to the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme (SIBSS)
In Scotland, the changes are to increase annual payments for infected beneficiaries and bereaved partners, and to introduce £10,000 lump sum bereavement payments for the families of those beneficiaries who have died since the scheme began.Source: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-03-25/hcws895
The statement also says that,
Increases in annual payments will be backdated to April 2019. Where lump sum payments are being increased, this will apply to all current scheme members. We will work with the four schemes to communicate the changes to beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will continue to receive their current payments until the changes can be made. We hope that the schemes will be able to make additional payments where required by the end of the calendar year, and sooner if possible.Source: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-03-25/hcws895
An independent reviewer is to be appointed to carry out a study, looking at options for a framework for compensation. They will be asked to report back to the Paymaster General with recommendations, before the Infected Blood Inquiry reports.
The terms of reference of the study will be finalised in consultation between the independent reviewer and those infected and affected. However, it will include,
- consideration of the scope and levels of such compensation,
- the relationship between a compensation framework and the existing financial support schemes in place.
The name of the independent reviewer hasn’t been announced.
Joyce Donnelly, Convenor of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum welcomed the Scottish Government announcement,
“This uplift today will help a lot of people in Scotland who have lost loved ones or lived with the consequences of being infected with potentially deadly viruses for literally decade. More work remains to be done but this is another step in the right direction.”
Bill Wright Chair of Haemophilia Scotland added,
“We look forward to the findings of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s ongoing investigation of the effectiveness of the different support schemes across the UK and the separate Review announced by the Paymaster General this morning. We are already fully engaged with the judicial Inquiry led by Sir Brian Langstaff and will seek to engage actively with the review looking at options for a framework for compensation”.