Government makes announcement on support for infected blood victims

Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt today made an announcement on behalf of the UK Government on support for those infected and affected by infected blood. The statement addresses parity of financial support, the commitment to considering a compensation framework, and enhancements to the psychological support for the victims of the Infected Blood tragedy.

Parity of financial support

Financial support for those affected by infected blood has been made consistent across the UK nations, resolving previous disparities in levels of support for people infected and affected. The key elements of change for the England Infected Blood Support Scheme are:

  • annual payments for bereaved partners will be increased to an automatic 100% of their partners annual payment in year 1, and 75% in year 2 and subsequent years, in line with the position in Scotland;
  • the lump sum bereavement payment will move from a discretionary £10,000 to an automatic £10,000, in line with the position in Wales;
  • the lump sum payment paid to a beneficiary in the scheme with hepatitis C Stage 1 will increase by £30,000 from £20,000 to £50,000, in line with the position in Scotland; and
  • the lump sum payment paid to a beneficiary in the scheme with HIV will increase from up to £80.5k maximum in England, to an automatic £80.5k.

In addition, the schemes managed by the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be similarly adapted so that across the UK there is broad parity of payments to infected and affected people. These adaptations are in line with the UK-wide agreement reached in July 2019.

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.

In Wales, the changes are to increase annual payments for infected beneficiaries, increase both the payments and length of payments for the bereaved partners, in line with the position in Scotland, and changes to the lump sums for hepatitis C & HIV.

In Northern Ireland, the changes are to annual payments for non-infected bereaved spouses/partners, lump sum bereavement payments, and a commitment to introduce enhanced financial support for hepatitis C (Stage 1), at the same payment levels as in England, as soon as a system can be put into operation.

Compensation

The Government has also committed to the appointment of an independent reviewer to carry out a study, looking at options for a framework for compensation, and to report back to the Paymaster General with recommendations, before the Inquiry reports.

The terms of reference of this study will be finalised in consultation between the independent reviewer and those infected and affected. The study will include consideration of the scope and levels of such compensation, and the relationship between a compensation framework and the existing financial support schemes in place. The study shall provide the Paymaster General with advice on potential compensation framework design and solutions which can be ready to implement upon the conclusion of the Inquiry, should the Inquiry’s findings and recommendations require it.

Psychological support

Finally, the Government has announced that the Department of Health and Social Care will continue to work with English Infected Blood Support Service and NHS England and Improvement to review if further improvements are necessary to the psychological support which is available for beneficiaries.

Read the full statement by the Paymaster General here.