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London borough proposes £100m fund for survivors of abuse at children’s homes

The London Borough of Lambeth has proposed a £100m fund for survivors of historic child sexual, physical and psychological abuse at its former children’s homes.

Its cabinet is due to consider the idea next week.

The council said the scheme would provide swift and compassionate redress, “while ensuring compensation for survivors of abuse is not swallowed up by lawyers’ fees”.

It has persuaded the Government to allow the scheme to be counted as capital, so it can borrow the money needed without an associated council tax increase.

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Leader Lib Peck said: “Terrible abuse occurred at Lambeth children’s homes prior to their closure in the 80s and 90s and for many the trauma suffered by survivors lives on to this day.

“As the current leader of Lambeth Council I make a full and genuine apology for the abuse that people suffered due to historic failings in the care system.”

She said previous administrations had not dealt with “a very dark period of Lambeth’s history”.

The redress scheme will offer a formal apology, compensation and access to specialist counselling with a ‘harm’s way’ payment of up to £10,000 and avoids the need for survivors to take the matter to the courts.

Cllr Peck said: “We have acted now to deliver this scheme because survivors have already waited too long for redress and there is sadly little prospect of national action on this issue in the near future.”

The abuses came to light in 2012 when the police’s Operation Yewtree investigation led to survivors coming forward.

Lambeth said all former residents of its children’s homes would be eligible to apply to the redress scheme and would be given independent legal support paid for by the council when they applied. An independent panel would consider any appeals relating to applications.

Survivors who went from a council run children’s home to foster care will also be able to claim for any abuse committed by their carers.

Mark Smulian

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