Advance payment scheme for abuse victims opens

Image caption,
The scheme was announced by John Swinney in the Scottish Parliament

Survivors of childhood abuse who are elderly or terminally ill can apply now for compensation payments.

The scheme will be open to people who have a terminal illness or are aged 70 or over.

It has been introduced ahead of a wider payment scheme that is due to open in 2021, and which will offer redress to other survivors of abuse in care.

There had been concerns that some survivors would not survive until then because of their age or health.

The Advance Payment Scheme will see successful applicants receive a flat rate of £10,000, with £10m being set aside for the scheme this year.

To be eligible, applicants must either have a terminal illness or be age 70 or over, and have experienced abuse while in care in Scotland before December 2004.

They will not be required to submit evidence of having been abused, but will require documentary evidence which shows they were in care.

Places of care which are covered by the scheme include children's homes, foster care, secure care units including List D schools, Young Offenders' Institutions and Borstals, among others.

The scheme was announced in the Scottish Parliament by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

'Robust and credible'

He said: "We wholeheartedly accept the need to provide acknowledgement and tangible recognition of the harm done to children who were abused in care in Scotland, while acknowledging that such recognition cannot in any way take away the pain that individuals have suffered.

"We are all too aware that, because of their age or health, some survivors may not live long enough to apply to the statutory scheme.

"Survivors asked us to develop an application process which is as straightforward as possible, whilst making the scheme robust and credible. This is what we have designed."

Application packs for the Advance Payment Scheme are available here, and a free telephone support line operated by specially trained staff will be available to help survivors with their applications.

The support line will be open from 10:00 on Monday 29 April, and the payments team can be reached on 0808 169 9740.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which was set up following revelations by the BBC and others, is currently examining allegations of physical and sexual abuse at 86 institutions, including former children's homes and leading boarding schools.

Media caption,
Maryanne Pugsley: "The impact of this has infiltrated every single aspect of my life - education, relationships, family and health, to name a few - and continues to this day."

However, it is not specifically looking at state-run mainstream schools.

Earlier on Thursday Holyrood's Petitions Committee heard from a woman who says she was sexually abused by her teacher when she was at school in the 1970s.

Maryanne Pugsley wants the Scottish government to back a public inquiry into the abuse of children attending state schools and also to review the law on corroboration.

She told MSPs: "I have not lived a life reaching my full potential. The impact of this has infiltrated every single aspect of my life - education, relationships, family and health, to name a few - and continues to this day."