New compensation scheme to be set up in England for victims of child sex abuse

A national compensation scheme for victims of child sexual abuse will be introduced in England, the home secretary has announced.

The move, which Suella Braverman called a "landmark commitment", comes several months after a seven-year inquiry into institutional failings in England and Wales recommended the creation of a redress scheme for survivors.

Opposition MPs urged the cabinet minister not to delay in introducing the necessary reforms, with some key changes set to be introduced following a consultation process.

It is not yet clear who will receive compensation, how this will be funded or how much might be paid.

Announcing the measure in the Commons, Ms Braverman said: "Of course nobody can ever fully compensate victims and survivors for the abuse they suffered.

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"But what we can do is properly acknowledge their suffering, deliver justice and an appropriate form of redress. This is a landmark commitment, it will be complex and it will be challenging, but it really matters."

The final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), published last October, called for a fixed-term compensation scheme for victims "let down by institutions in the past".

The inquiry, which began in 2015 and drew on evidence from over 7,000 survivors, described the scale of child sex abuse in England and Wales as an epidemic which has left "thousands of victims in its poisonous wake".

Ms Braverman described its findings as "harrowing" and said the IICSA "must be a watershed moment".

But she suggested the changes will take time, telling MPs: "I do not want to give victims and survivors the false impression that implementing these big commitments will just happen overnight."

The government will now consult with victims, survivors and charities to develop the scheme and understand who it should support.

The IICSA, in making the recommendation, said applicants to the scheme should have experienced abuse "where there is a clear connection to state or non-state institutions".

Alongside the redress scheme, the government wants better access to therapeutic support for victims and survivors and will look at improving the way police collect data on child sexual abuse to better understand the scale and nature of the crime.

It is also moving "quickly" to introduce a mandatory duty on professionals working with children to report concerns about sexual abuse, with a 12-week consultation launched.

But a number of the inquiry's other recommendations have been rejected, including a minister for children in the cabinet.

Labour led calls for the government to introduce the changes quickly to help protect children from sexual abuse.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told MPs: "Children and teenagers have paid the price of the country's failure to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation.

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"This is about the victims and survivors, but it is also about future generations of children whose safety and lives will be at risk if we do not see action."

Anna Edmundson, head of policy at the NSPCC, said the proposals need to go "further and faster".

"It is disappointing that the inquiry's clear recommendation that all child victims of sexual abuse should be guaranteed specialist, accredited therapeutic support is absent from the concrete commitments made by the government," she said.

Ian Dean, director of the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, welcomed the announcement but said that the details, which will come after further consultation, would be "incredibly important"

He added: "It is vital that the government honours its commitments to victims and survivors, and to protecting children today from sexual abuse in the future."