A Holyrood committee has backed the general principles of the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill, despite having "fundamental issues" with certain provisions.
In its stage 1 report on the bill, the Education & Skills Committee concludes that while there are "some fundamental issues with the bill's waiver provisions and the way in which 'fair and meaningful' contributions to the scheme are calculated", the bill provides a straightforward, easy to access scheme that will play a vital role in helping victims/survivors obtain redress.
The bill would provide fixed rate compensation at levels from £10,000 to £80,000, but claimants would have to waive the ability to bring court proceedings in addition, a feature which has been strongly criticised.
Committee members recognise that the scheme will not provide the solution all victims/survivors are seeking, and that some survivors will be unable to benefit from the scheme, due to the way in which they found themselves in care.
Under the bill as it stands, children must have been placed in care by the state, and not voluntarily by their parents, though the report notes that some children in the latter category suffered equal abuse. It recommends that there should be scope for the proposed Redress Scotland body to consider such cases "on an exceptional basis".
It further notes a "general dissatisfaction amongst victims/survivors" at the proposed levels of compensation, and recommends that the Scottish Government revisits these ahead of stage 2.
On waiver, the MSPs report: "Whilst the Scottish Government's stated intention is to create a redress system which would offer more choice to victims/survivors, the overwhelming view conveyed to the committee by victims/survivors was that the waiver restricted their choices and therefore they felt it should be removed...
"The overwhelming evidence received by the committee from both victims/ survivors and potential contributors suggests that the case for a waiver has not been adequately made. The committee recommends that the Scottish Government considers removing the waiver and find another way to avoid making double payments to victims/survivors."
They further recommend that in order to allow victims/survivors sufficient time to access the redress scheme, the Government should consider extending the scheme beyond its initial five year duration.