Criminal Injury

Why £11,000 bereavement awards to loved ones of crime victims could be cut to £8,000

cica bereavement awards
nicola-bailey-gibbs-hudgell-solicitors

Nicola Bailey-Gibbs

Manager & Associate Solicitor

5 min read time
23 Jun 2022

Losing a loved one because of a crime of violence is a terrible experience.

The government’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) provides support in the form of awards to bereaved relatives where a close family member has died as a direct result of a violent crime.

The CICA payments are to acknowledge the loss of a loved one and to provide support to family members.

Bereavement awards are currently set at £11,000 where there is one qualifying relative.

In CICA claims where there is more than one qualifying relative, such as children and dependents, awards are paid at £5,500 to each individual.

Funeral expenses can also be paid – up to a maximum of £5,000.

The CICA is however proposing to simplify its Bereavement Awards and funeral payments. In a review currently underway, it says payments for the majority of applicants would increase but there would be lower awards for others as a result.

Homicide-statistics-uk

Who qualifies for CICA Bereavement Awards?

CICA Bereavement Awards are intended to acknowledge the loss of a loved one as a result of violent crime, although it accepts that no amount of compensation can ever reflect the value of a life, or the full impact felt by bereaved families. Qualifying relatives include:

  • spouse or civil partner (living in the same household) of the deceased
  • the partner (living in same household continuously for at least two years)
  • a spouse, civil partner or partner who did not live with the person due to ill-health or infirmity
  • a spouse or civil partner, or former spouse or civil partner, who was financially dependent on the deceased
  • or a parent or child of the deceased

Proposed changes to CICA Bereavement Awards

The CICA’s review into payments says the current approach is administratively complex and can lead to longer waiting times for claims to be settled where there is more than one potential qualifying relative.

It proposes creating a single rate payment for Bereavement Awards set at £8,000 for all qualifying relatives.

Although this will result in a decreased award for the small number of claims in which there is only one qualifying relative, it will mean an increase of £2,500 for the majority of applicants.

It should also make the process of applying for compensation easier for applicants and speed up the process of deciding claims, says the review.

CICA Funeral Payments

Currently the scheme provides for a minimum basic payment of £2,500 towards funeral costs where a person has died as a direct result of injuries inflicted by a crime of violence.

An additional discretionary award for further costs up to £2,500 may be available where these costs are considered reasonable, and the claimant can provide receipts.

However, the cost of a basic funeral has increased significantly over the last 10 years.

CICA says it aims to make the application process as straightforward as possible for bereaved family members and that could be achieved by moving to a single payment of £4,500.

Currently, CICA pays out funeral expenses within 3 months in 47% of cases, and within 6 months in 78% of cases.

Can CICA Bereavement Awards be withheld?

There are clear grounds for withholding or reducing CICA awards.

The CICA states that could happen if “the deceased person’s conduct before, during or after the incident giving rise to their death, makes it inappropriate to make an award or a full award.”

Conduct does not include the deceased’s intoxication through alcohol or drugs.

An example of where conduct of the deceased could lead to a refusal or reduction in an award is if the deceased was clearly identified as the instigator or aggressor with the intent to cause injury to others in the incident which led to their death.

Given that the Scheme is funded by the taxpayer it states: “We believe it is reasonable that there is some consideration of the conduct of the deceased.

However, in general, even where the deceased had a number of unspent convictions or other character issues, these will not constitute “exceptional circumstances” unless they are considered so serious that to make an award would be an inappropriate use of public funds.

CICA’s ‘Same Roof Rule’

The CICA has now abolished the pre-1979 “same roof rule” which denied compensation for some victims who lived with their attacker.

The rule was dropped in 2019 and allowed victims who have never applied for compensation to do so. Even though the two-year-time limit has now expired, victims and their loved ones can still apply if there are exceptional reasons for the delay.

The CICA has made provision for victims whose applications had previously been refused under this rule to reapply – and £10.9m was made available to victims.

Areas of the UK with the highest Violent Crime rates

The average ‘Violence Against a Person’ rate for England & Wales is 33.8 recorded crimes per 1,000 people

  • West Midlands 53.6
  • West Yorkshire 51.5
  • Cleveland 47.5
  • Greater Manchester 45.9
  • Merseyside 44.7
  • North Wales 43.6
  • Kent 43.8
  • Durham 38
  • Cheshire 38
  • Lancashire 38
  • Humberside 38
  • Essex 38
  • Dyfed Powys 38

Making a Criminal Injuries Claim

If you or a member of your family has come to harm as a result of a criminal injury, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries. We put your interests first, ensuring the most appropriate and effective legal specialists are handling your claim.

The first step is to get in touch using our online claim form. From here, one of our expert criminal injury lawyers will contact you for a confidential discussion of your circumstances, guiding you on the best path forward.

Read more: Criminal Injuries Compensation Claims

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Why £11,000 bereavement awards to loved ones of crime victims could be cut to £8,000

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