MP DEMANDS BETTER SUPPORT FOR RIOT VICTIMS – “Donations should not be deducted from official compensation payments”
The Riots Compensation Bill now going through Parliament should be strengthened, says Croydon North MP Steve Reed.
In a speech to the riots compensation committee hearing, Mr Reed sought reassurances that those people who generously donated to help neighbours affected by the 2011 riots would not see that money deducted from official compensation payments.
The Bill, which enjoys cross-party support, updates the existing 1886 laws which were found to be woefully out of date following the 2011 riots during which areas of Croydon were hit particularly hard, says a statement on the MP’s website.
Mr Reed, a member of the committee scrutinising the proposals in detail, has called for them to be further strengthened before becoming law.
He wants action to stop insurance premiums rising to unaffordable levels in areas affected by riots, assurances that donations from the public will not be deducted from official compensation payments, and a stronger voice for communities in overseeing riot compensation.
Mr Reed says: “Businesses and residents along the London Road in Croydon suffered terribly during the riots in 2011.
“It took far too long for many of them to receive compensation, and even today many continue to suffer with unaffordable insurance premiums that threaten their businesses’ financial future.
“The local community was frustrated they had no voice in how recovery funds were spent, and angry that money donated by the public to help those who suffered the most was deducted from official pay-outs.
“I will keep fighting to ensure people are treated more fairly if, god forbid, there were to be a repeat of those dark days in 2011.”
In his speech to Parliament Mr Reed, supporting an amendment by Tottenham MP David Lammy, said: “I would like those who give generously to help their neighbours who have suffered a loss to have the reassurance that the money they contribute will not subsequently be deducted from official compensation payments, but tragically that is exactly what happened in Croydon in 2011.
“Money was donated to the mayor’s fund and was then distributed to individuals and businesses that had suffered a loss, but those generous payments were then deducted from the official compensation payments that were made.
“That is clearly wrong and a disincentive to people to give generously, as they did in Croydon to help their friends and neighbours.
“It is entirely wrong that such generosity should be discouraged by the deduction of those contributions from official payments. “I strongly support my right hon. Friend’s amendment, which I hope will have the support of the House.”
James Brokenshire MP (Con, Old Bexley and Sidcup), responding to Mr Lammy’s amendment, said the policing minister had made it clear that it is not fair to reduce right compensation settlements to reflect any payment given by charity. “I am happy to restate that position today.
“As for the proposal to prohibit deductions from riot compensation payments for a claimant who has received money from a public fund for losses that are also covered in the Bill, we have to consider the need to protect the public purse and to protect the taxpayer from making double payments.
“I have one further piece of clarification. If a payment from a public fund has been given for a purpose not covered by the Bill, a deduction will not be made. For example, if payments were made for personal injury or to cover a loss of income, which would take us into the sphere of consequential loss, a deduction would not happen.
“In other words, it will be fine if a payment has been made for a purpose for which the Bill provides through the compensation schemes covered in it, but if payments have been made through schemes designed for other purposes, it will clearly not be appropriate for a deduction to operate.
“I hope that that clarification is helpful in explaining how we envisage the inter-relationship between compensation schemes under the Bill and other schemes.”
Mr Steve Reed: I take the right hon. Gentleman’s point about the public purse, but what reassurances can he give that charitable donations from members of a community that were given to help victims in the locality will not be—rather than should not be—deducted from official compensation payments?
James Brokenshire: “Again, the best place to deal with that and give clarity about the operation of the Bill is in regulations. “I hope that given what I have said today about the intention to introduce regulations to sit alongside the Bill, hon. members will be reassured on this important point about charitable donations.
“Obviously, right hon. and hon. members will be able to examine the regulations when they are published, following Royal Assent—we hope that will happen, but both Houses need to give the Bill their consideration.”