Budgets threatened by new compensation bids

Further claims by individuals abused in local authority
residential care are expected to emerge following a ground-breaking
appeal last week.

Five former residents of four children’s homes run by Liverpool
Council in the 1970s and 1980s overturned the decision of the
Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to deny them compensation.

Chairperson Lord Carlisle accepted psychologists’ views that
abused children find it hard to form close adult relationships, and
if abused by people in authority often rebel against all its forms,
turning to crime, and where trust was betrayed, fail to keep full
time jobs.

Peter Garsden, the solicitor co-ordinating the action, said the
ruling set a precedent for other claims, but argued that all five
should have received the total compensation – three were awarded
only 50 per cent.

A High Court writ will shortly be issued on behalf of 115 men
against Liverpool Council and three charities which ran homes
employing staff convicted of abuse over the past 18 months. A major
police investigation is continuing and further trials awaited.

Brian Waller, children and families spokesperson for the
Association of Directors of Social Services, said: ‘It does not
surprise me that people who may have suffered abuse as a result of
deficiencies in a local authority have gone on to commit

Last week’s ruling came as Liverpool Council announced it was
struggling to find an estimated £4 million to cover likely
claims for abuse in some of its former children’s homes.

A report to the policy and resources committee outlined 54
claims and estimated the cost at £1 million if each received

But Paul Clein, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said the report
adds there will be hundreds more claims. Based on recent
settlements in other authorities of between £20,000 and
£145,000, Clein suggested: ‘I think it’s going to be at least
£4 million.’

The council says it hopes to cover the costs over three years by
not filling vacancies rather than cutting services. But Liverpool
suffered a £44 million cut this financial year and is facing a
further £18 million cuts next year.

Jimmy Kendrick, Liberal Democrat social services spokesperson,
said the payout would cost either home help services or jobs.
Liverpool has just introduced a charge for its home help

A council spokesperson said the authority had pulled out of
using external insurance against claims to save money, but the
decision is under review.

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