HC Deb 17 June 2002 vol 387 cc112-3W
Mr. Dismore

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in relation to criminal injuries compensation scheme applications on behalf of infants who have sustained catastrophic brain damage as a result of having been shaken by a third party in the last three years, how many applications are outstanding; of these how many have(a) outstanding decisions on liability and (b) decisions accepting liability in principle: what is (i) the longest delay and (ii) the average delay since the application was lodged; of payments made in each of the last three years, what was (a) the average value, (b) the lowest value and (c) the highest value; how many of those decisions which accept liability in principle are awaiting care reports from the applicants' advisers; what the average cost of a care report is; what contribution towards the cost of a care report is offered by the CICS; in cases where a decision has been made accepting liability in principle where a care report has been supplied (1) how many have resulted in additional care questions for the applicants' advisers, (2) what the average cost of the care report was and (3) what contribution was made towards the cost of the care report; what his policy is towards the requesting of additional expert evidence at the expense of the applicants; whether it may be accepted that a case clearly exceeds the maximum award without the need for a care report; and if he will make a statement. [57649]

Hilary Benn

With respect to questions(a) and (b), (i) and (ii), and A, B and C, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) advises that it does not have a classification on its casework database corresponding to these specific types of case. To answer those questions accurately would accordingly require the individual examination of every case where the victim was a young child at the time of injury. That could be done only at disproportionate cost.

It can take a considerable time to complete the assessment of compensation payable in individual cases that involve severe or complex injuries. However, once eligibility has been established in principle, CICA may make interim awards, for example in respect of the care needs of a severely injured child.

CICA obtains and meets the cost of all the reports it considers necessary to inform a fair and accurate assessment of an application. No applicant is required to provide reports. However, some do provide reports in support of their view of the award that they should receive. Where the Authority considers reports or other information submitted by an applicant to be inaccurate, inadequate, or out of date, it may propose that supplementary information be provided at the applicant's expense.

Generally, CICA does not reimburse the cost of care or other reports, commissioned by applicants or their representatives. However, CICA will make interim awards of compensation so that an applicant has the funds to pay for any specialist report that he or she may wish to obtain. The Authority is not routinely told the cost of care reports commissioned by third parties. And the records held by CICA of the cost of reports that it has paid for do not differentiate between care reports and others. Consequently CICA has no centrally held data from which to derive the average cost of a care report.

Where it appears that the combination of the tariff award and the assessment of special expenses is highly likely to exceed the Scheme limit of £500,000 per case, CICA will usually concentrate on the main heads of claim to shorten the process involved in reaching the determination. However, where the victim is a severely injured young child the process of assessment may be complicated by considerations such as life expectancy and difficulty in reaching a firm long-term prognosis.

In such cases the local authority's assessment of care needs and details of what it will provide free of charge are an essential part of the corresponding assessment of costs under the Tariff Scheme. This is because local authorities tend to provide services to children without charge, and paragraph 35(d) of the Scheme specifies that the reasonable costs of care services may be provided for in an award of compensation only where they are not available free of charge from the national health service, local authorities or any other agency.