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Bexley MPs lock horns over violent crime victim compensation
BEXLEY MPs are at loggerheads over slashes to money given to victims of violent crime.
Bexleyheath and Crayford MP, David Evennett, voted for a law amendment which would see dramatic cuts to victims’ compensation.
But Erith and Thamesmead MP, Teresa Pearce, voted against the plan in a parliamentary committee meeting on November 1.
She said: "It was quite sad that Evennett voted in favour of it.
"And it’s a sad day really because this amendment just denies justice for lots of people. It’s shocking."
Currently the Department of Justice pays out £449m, in £5,000 to £500,000 sums, to up to 40,000 victims of violent crime each year.
But the government argues the funds have been exploited by thousands of undeserving claimants who have clogged up the system.
Bexleyheath taxi driver, Eddie McCann, who was assaulted in 2010, said: "I do agree with compensation to an extent but it is vastly too high and it encourages people to abuse it in many ways.
"If somebody sets about someone or attacks them, the person who did it should pay the compensation, not necessarily the government."
The amendment, which looks set to go through, will remove all injury claims of up to £2,000 and halve injury claims from £2,500 to £11,000.
The changes will exclude train drivers claiming to be affected by railway suicides.
They will also exclude victims who have not reported crimes "as soon as reasonably practicable".
This neglects victims of domestic violence and rape, critics claim.
Victims will still be compensated for loss of earnings, but not if they can still work, even on a reduced income.
Mr Evennett said: "The government will continue to provide support for victims of crime who suffer serious injuries.
"In fact, some people will receive more support under the new scheme.
"Where the injury sustained is minor, the amount of money paid is often small and claimed a considerable time after the incident took place.
"It is therefore better that taxpayers’ money is spent providing other help and support.
"In those circumstances where some may face financial difficulty because they cannot work and they do not receive sick pay, they may be able to apply to a new £500,000 hardship scheme which the government will be establishing."
An Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "We are dedicated to preserving compensation to the most seriously-injured victims of crime.
"But where less serious injuries have been caused, we believe taxpayers' money is better spent providing support and help rather than what are often small amounts of compensation well after the crime has been committed.
"We listened carefully to the concerns raised and believe we must do more to help those very low earners who may find themselves in real and immediate financial hardship.
"We are therefore establishing a £500,000 Hardship Fund for people who are temporarily unable to work and not in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay or an equivalent employer-provided scheme.
"From December courts must also consider imposing a compensation order as part of all criminals' sentences where they've caused injury, loss or damage."