Will beneficiaries in NI receive the payments in the absence of an Executive?
The interim payments will be paid to Northern Ireland beneficiaries of the Infected Blood Payment Scheme. This a UK-wide issue and the UK Government is providing funding for payments across the UK.
Health Minister Robin Swann welcomed the UK Government’s announcement that those infected and / or affected by contaminated blood will receive interim payments and the Department has worked over recent weeks with its counterparts in Westminster to ensure that the payments were processed by the end of October.
When will payments be made?
The Department has been working at pace with officials in the Department for Communities and Whitehall departments to ensure there is no adverse impact on benefits eligibility. This work is now complete and the Business Services Organisation, which is processing the payments on behalf of the UK Government, has written to all Scheme beneficiaries to notify them that they payment will be in their bank accounts by the end of October.
Will beneficiaries receive the payment directly from Westminster?
It was agreed that, whilst these payments are separate from the current ex-gratia payments provided by the infected blood support schemes, the existing schemes would act as administrative agents to make the payments. Therefore, the payments have been processed by the NI Scheme, but this was done on behalf of the UK Government.
Will the payments be tax exempt and disregarded for social security benefits?
As with payments provided through the NI Infected Blood Payment Scheme, these interim compensation payments will be tax-free and will not affect entitlement to social security benefits. DoH NI officials have worked at pace over recent weeks with colleagues in Whitehall and the Department for Communities on the technical details of those issues.
Do the relatives of people who have died get this compensation e.g. bereaved children and parents?
These interim compensation payments will be made to those infected beneficiaries and bereaved partners registered on the NI Infected Blood Payment Scheme. The interim payments will build on the financial support that is already provided to those affected through the NI Scheme. More work is being done to consider the other recommendations made by Sir Robert Francis KC and DoH NI will consider any further recommendations from the Inquiry when it reports.
Will the estate of a NI Scheme beneficiary who has passed away since Sir Brian Langstaff published his report be entitled to receive the £100,000 payment?
Making a payment to an estate requires a bespoke process which is being developed at pace by the four UK health departments, working with central UK Government, in order to ensure that the payments can be made to eligible estates as soon as possible.
Is this all they are going to get? Is this the end of it?
These interim compensation payments will build on the support that is already provided to those affected through the NI Infected Blood Payment Scheme More work is being done to consider the other recommendations made by Sir Robert Francis KC and along with UK counterparts, DoH NI will consider any further recommendations from the Infected Blood Inquiry when it reports.
Will Scheme beneficiaries still get their existing ex-gratia payments?
Those who receive this money will continue to receive any other payments they are already eligible for through the NI Infected Blood Payment Scheme.
How much will this cost?
Interim compensation payments are being funded by the UK Government across the UK. Funding provided for Northern Ireland for the financial year 2022/23 is estimated to be around £11.2M. This is £10.4m for the existing 104 beneficiaries plus an additional £800,000 for any new beneficiaries who join before the end of the financial year. The estimated cost across the UK is around £400 million.
Are DAs responsible for funding the cost of these compensation payments?
This a UK-wide issue and the UK Government is providing funding for payments across the UK. The DAs will be responsible for administering payments in each nation, but the costs of these payments will be fully funded by the UK Government.
Is the UK government admitting liability?
The use of contaminated blood and blood products in the 1970s and 1980s was a tragedy for everyone involved and the Minister is aware of the financial hardships and suffering endured since then.
These interim payments will build on the support that is already provided to those infected and / or affected through the NI Infected Blood Payment Scheme, but the UK Government has acknowledged that there is still more to do.