The Scottish Government today announced key changes to the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme which will be funded by the UK Government.
This was in response to a written statement from Westminster by the Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt:
A visual summary of the changes to the payments under SIBSS is shown below.
Not only is there now parity between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is also parity between category payments: Self-assessed Severely Chronic (stage 1) HCV is given the same level as Advanced (stage 2) HCV and both now equal the HIV payment. The same is true for widows/er/partners of severely chronically affected and advanced HCV people.
Those who self-assessed as moderately affected will also receive a large increase in annual payment.
A further £10,000 lump sum bereavement payment is being introduced for the families of those beneficiaries who have died since the scheme began.
The changes will be back-dated to April 2019. This means people who get increased annual payments will receive around 2 years worth of increases (when compared to the relative English payment levels for those years) as a lump sum. These lump sums will be tax-free and should not impact on any benefit entitlement or existing benefit payments. The Scottish Government say they hope to process all lumps sums by the summer.
The chart below illustrates what this will mean for those who receive their regular payments monthly:
SIBF broadly welcome these changes. The Forum’s Convener, Joyce Donnelly, said:
“We cautiously welcome today’s announcements by the Paymaster General and the Scottish Government, but would highlight how long we have waited for it. Sir Brian Langstaff, the Chairman of the UK Infected Blood Inquiry, wrote to the Government on this issue in 2019. He was concerned about the “grinding hardship” faced by infected people and their families. These belated announcements will at least begin to restore some level of commensurate support to people harmed by the State. However there are still many gaps, including the complete disregard for parents and children, as carers and bereaved traumatised persons.”“
“This uplift today will help a lot of people in Scotland who have lost loved ones or lived with the consequences of being infected with potentially deadly viruses for literally decade. More work remains to be done but this is another step in the right direction.”
Bill Wright, Chair of our fellow campaigning charity, Haemophilia Scotland, said:
“We look forward to the findings of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s ongoing investigation of the effectiveness of the different support schemes across the UK and the separate Review announced by the Paymaster General this morning. We are already fully engaged with the judicial Inquiry led by Sir Brian Langstaff and will seek to engage actively with the review looking at options for a framework for compensation”.
Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff said in response:
“I welcome the commitment to bring the four national schemes into broader parity, to help to alleviate what I have described as the grinding hardship which far too many people have been condemned through no fault of their own.
The statement also sets out the Government’s intention to appoint an independent reviewer to carry out a study looking at options for a framework for compensation to inform the Government’s preparations for the Inquiry’s recommendations. I want to reassure Inquiry participants that this is completely separate from the Inquiry, that this does not affect the Inquiry’s terms of reference and that we will continue in our investigative work to get to the truth of what happened.”
The Scottish Government announcement is extracted below:
“A summary of changes to Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme payments in light of the UK Government announcement of 25 March and what this means for beneficiaries. Published: 25 Mar 2021 Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme – payment changes: statement
Following comments about the disparities between infected blood payments across the UK by the Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, agreement has been reached in principle between the four devolved governments to reduce these disparities.
The Scottish Government is still waiting for confirmation of funding details from the UK Government, but we currently expect that the following changes will be made to the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme to bring annual payments into alignment across the UK. Beneficiaries who currently receive an annual payment (paid monthly or quarterly) should receive their new payments as soon as is feasible – SIBSS will work on this as quickly as they can, but will confirm arrangements once a new amending Scheme document is ready. In the meantime, you will receive the payments you were previously notified about (see the SIBSS previously planned column below).
All changes to annual payments will be backdated to April 2019 so regular payments you received since then for any time period you were eligible will be topped up to reflect the levels paid by the English Infected Blood Support Scheme in 2019-20 and 2020-21. While backdated payments will take a little longer to process, we hope that these payments will be made by the summer. If you already receive an annual payment, you do not need to do anything to apply for the backdated money as SIBSS will arrange payment for you.
The expected new payments levels for SIBSS effective from April 2021 are set out below in the right-hand column.
|SIBSS (previously planned) 2021-22||UK Parity Payments 2021-22*|
|Chronic HCV Stage 1 (moderately affected)||£6,439||£19,456|
|Chronic HCV Stage 1 (severely affected)||£19,317||£29,224|
|Advanced HCV (Stage 2)||£27,596||£29,224|
|Widows/ers/partners – chronic HCV – moderately affected||£4,829||£14,184|
|Widows/ers/partners – chronic HCV – severely affected||£14,488||£21,510|
|Widows/ers/partners – advanced HCV or HIV||£20,697||£21,510|
|Widows/ers/partners – coinfected||£28,363||£33,804|
* Note – the UK payment levels for the infected include a winter fuel allowance. SIBSS will confirm in due course when this part of the payment will be paid.
Those in the Stage 1 group who have self-assessed that hepatitis c (HCV) has no noticeable impact on their day to day life will also now be able to get an annual payment and payments backdated to April 2019. The Scottish Government hopes to be able to confirm details of the new payment levels soon and SIBSS will then provide application forms to beneficiaries in this group as soon as possible.
Please note that the payment levels set out above for the bereaved widows, widowers, civil partners or long-term cohabiting partners of an infected beneficiary who died are for those whose spouse or partner died over 12 months ago. If your spouse or partner died within the last 12 months you will get the same amount as your spouse or partner would have been entitled to until the first 12 months have passed.
In addition, those widows, widowers, civil partners or long-term cohabiting partners who have since remarried, entered into a new civil partnership or are living with a new partner will now be able to receive these regular annual payments as well and will also receive backdated top-up payments for period from April 2019.
Effective from April 2021, a new £10,000 lump sum payment will now be made on the death of a beneficiary to support their family with expenses, such as funeral costs. This will be available both to widows, widowers, civil partners or long-term cohabiting partners of a beneficiary who has died or, if they did not have a partner, the deceased person’s estate will be able to claim this payment. SIBSS will prepare a short application forms soon for this new payment.
In addition, we expect HIV lump sum payments to be increased for existing beneficiaries who have received less than £80,500 and will aim to make the £10,000 bereavement payment available to widows, widowers and partners who are already SIBSS beneficiaries.
Please contact the SIBSS team if you have any queries.
Telephone: 0131 275 6754″
This is a belated but welcome set of changes and we anticipate further changes to the schemes to include support for parent and child carers of those who have already died from being infected by the State and also palliative care provision for those with terminal illness.