Concerns Raised surrounding Victims Payment Scheme

In Recent weeks the Ely Centre has undertaken a Risk Analysis surrounding the introduction of the Victims/Survivors Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme, furthering the work undertaken in our consultation response to the Payment Scheme, a scheme which has the potential to impact many of our members and clients.  Furthermore we have noticed a rapid increase in recent weeks or enquiries from members seeking to find out more about the scheme and this risk assessment was now required as speculation surrounding the scheme introduction intensifies.

 A Summary of identified risks raised from within the Board and Staffing team were submitted this week to Local MPS, Local MLAs, and Victim’s Commissioner alongside our colleagues in the Payment Scheme Implementation Group. We have been encouraged by the responses we have received to these concerns and today were pleased to learn that the issue of the payment scheme was mentioned during Prime Ministers Question by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

General Organizational concerns in relation to current operational demand current operational capacity experiencing and it is of paramount importance that all efforts are made surrounding the management of Victims/Survivor expectations of the Scheme.

An informed cohesive approach between Departmental / Victims Sector & Organisations which reflect the scheme guidelines surrounding (a) Supporting Evidence (b) Client Eligibility and (c) Timeframe of this scheme must be circulated as a matter of urgency and communicated to the staff on the ground to ensure this process is not log jammed with ineligible claimants at the detriment of eligible victims and survivors.

Health and Well Being Concerns include the Payment Scheme impact on the Health and Well Being of our clientele and ensuring there is sufficient resources and capacity within the area of mental health to support an expected surge in demand and ensuring the aftermath of the scheme is considered and its impact upon victims and survivors.

Dr Art O’Malley, Head of Clinical Services

Many of our clients knew this scheme was legislated to commence last month, this delay and confusion increases those genuine feelings of being forgotten about, which in turn impacts negatively upon their mental health and for many who are experiencing high levels of social isolation as a result of the current health pandemic a perfect storm may be on the horizon”

Scheme administration concerns including access to & collation of supporting evidence, current scheme time limit and underestimated numbers of applicants. There remains many misplaced assumptions surrounding the ownership of the scheme and fears concerning the assessment process evidence requirements and at present the increasing demands placed upon an already stretched service as the impact of COVID 19, difficult decisions will be made when balancing this essential support with the needs of claimants upon the payment scheme.

Mr Lee McDowell ,Director of Services

The Ely Centre, as outlined within our consultation response have many genuine concerns surrounding the introduction/ management/delivery and aftermath of this scheme. It is clear that current operational capacity to deliver this scheme, the collation of supporting evidence, the aftermath and the impact of this whole process on a victim’s well-being remain major concerns expressed by this organization”

To address these concerns The Ely Centre has submitted a number of recommendations to assist the role out of the scheme, which have been forwarded for consideration to the Implementation Group and local politicians.

Mr jim Dixon Chairperson concluded

“Victims are expectant, deserving and in need of recognition. This scheme must be delivered in a manner that is sympathetic to those it seeks to serve, which at its core protects them from any unnecessary trauma. We will continue to ensure that those leading the implementation and administration of this scheme are fully cognisant of their expectations and requirements”