In the first of a series of updates on redress schemes for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse we consider the now concluded Lambeth scheme. 

The Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme (the Scheme) provided survivors of physical and/or sexual and/or psychological abuse (whilst resident in a Lambeth Children’s Home) with an alternative dispute mechanism for obtaining compensation without having to go through the courts. In addition to financial compensation, eligible applicants to the Scheme are also entitled to receive a formal letter of apology from the council, a meeting with a senior officer, counselling support, access to advisory services and the provision of personalised counselling support and therapy.

The Scheme covered all children’s homes which were run by Lambeth Council until the homes were closed in the 1980s and 90s. The Scheme closed to new applications on 1 January 2022 with a final total of 2,239 applications having been made to the Scheme as at the closing date. The total Scheme expenditure to 31 March 2023 is circa £132.3 million, comprising: -

  • £92.4 million paid in redress compensation directly to applicants (£15.9m Harm’s Way Payment & £76.5m Individual Redress Payments)
  • £14.0 million in respect of applicants’ legal costs (paid to solicitors)
  • £8.9 million on applicant expenses, instruction of medical experts and social records chronology
  • £2.3 million on counselling services & Pre-Scheme SARs
  • £6.6 million for the council’s own legal costs in processing applications
  • and £8.1 million on administrative & staffing costs

The revised final estimated costs associated with all of the applications received to the Scheme is expected to be within the range of £153m to £177m. Of the total paid in redress compensation and associated legal costs to date circa 76% has gone directly to the applicants.

A breakdown of the application types received are as follows: -

Individual Redress Only*              131 Applicants    5.8%

Harm’s Way Payment Only           328 Applicants    14.7 %

Both Payments                              1,780 Applicants   79.5%

*Individual Redress only applications relate to applicants who are either deceased or were a visitor to a Lambeth Children’s Home.

In keeping with the experience of national and other private redress schemes, there were significant numbers of applications in the first six months of the scheme with over 100 applications per month received during that period but it then reduced to about 40 to 50 applications per month, before rising to 220 applications in the last month of the Scheme, December 2021.

The overall average processing time for Scheme applications from receipt of an application through to final payment of the Individual Redress payment was 18 months (two months for Harms Way Payment and 16 months for Individual Redress Payment). The Scheme provided compensation up to a maximum of £125,000, however some complex cases where special damages for aspects such as impairment of earning capacity may result in higher awards of compensation, required a more detailed analysis of expert information and the overall processing time for these applications under the scheme was 20 months. Of the 2,239 applications received under the Scheme only 126 applications fell to be considered over the Scheme limit of £125,000.

At the date of the most recent update in April 2023, 150 (7%) of the total applications received were closed with no redress payment having been made. This is either due to the applicant withdrawing or deciding not to progress with their application or not meeting the threshold for a Harm’s Way Payment (ten cases) or where the application has not been accepted into the Scheme due to not meeting the relevant Scheme criteria (140 cases).

Of the £15.9 million paid out in respect of the 1,918 Harm’s Way Payments made, 1,424 (89.7 %) of those payments, which comprised £10,000 each, were made to applicants who were resident in a Lambeth Children’s home for more than six months.

In the ongoing discussions about existing and future national and private redress schemes we hear a lot about the importance of non-financial redress. This Scheme offered applicants the opportunity to access a number of non-financial redress benefits such as a letter of apology, a meeting with a senior representative of the council, access to a counselling service and access to specialist advice and help with issues including housing, welfare, benefits, further education and employment.

Of the 2239 applicants to the Scheme, it is worth noting the following, as of March 2023:

  • 689 letters of apology have been requested, prepared, and sent to applicants. 
  • Only approximately 60 applicants had requested and had a meeting with a senior representative of the council, although further meetings were being scheduled and other requests expected. requested them.
  • 187 people had requested access to specialist advice on housing.
  • 59 people had requested access to specialist advice on education.
  • 42 people had requested access to specialist advice on employment.
  • 38 people had requested access to specialist advice on welfare and benefits.

Finally, Lambeth Council, like the operators of most national and private redress schemes, have found it impossible to estimate the projected costs of the Scheme. Based upon earlier actuarial assumptions Lambeth Council secured capitalisation directions from the Government to borrow up to £125 million to fund the Scheme. Given the revised financial forecasted cost of the Scheme referred to above (i.e. £153m to £177m), which they say is as a result of the higher than anticipated volume of applications received in the final month of the Scheme, Lambeth Council have had to request an increase in the capitalisation directive both in terms of value and time period to cover the expected increased costs and processing timescales.

Further updates will be provided when the Scheme publishes their annual update in April 2024.