Survivors of historic abuse in Islington children’s homes to receive £10k each

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Citizen

Survivors of a historic child abuse scandal in Islington children’s homes are set to receive a £10,000 payment each.

The £16m fund is due to be agreed at the council’s executive meeting this week (14 October).

Individual payments have increased by a fifth after the council consulted survivors of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by a council employee, a visitor introduced to a care home by the manager or a member of staff, or a volunteer, which took place in Islington-run children’s homes between 1966 to 1995.

The money will come from council reserves and people will initially have two years to come forward.

It is estimated that between 1,700 and 2,400 children lived in Islington children’s homes during the 30-year period, and 2,000 could still be alive.

Thirty-two survivors responded to the consultation.

The scheme is likely to be launched next spring and will be run independently of the council.

According to the council: “The support payment scheme will enable abuse survivors to receive a financial support payment without having to bring a civil compensation claim.

“It has been designed to enable eligible applicants to receive a payment more quickly than having to go through the trauma of the lengthy civil compensation claims process.”

Some people were concerned about plans to offset any civil compensation payment against this scheme’s payment.

The council said: “Whilst a scheme payment and a compensation payment are different, they are both coming from or on behalf of the council and the offset allows a fair distribution of a finite resource.”

The payment will not affect any civil claims survivors may bring.

There were 13 reports into complaints about children’s care in the years leading up to 1995 before the independent White report concluded that each of these looked at individual problems.

It said what happened was “a disastrous chapter in Islington’s history”, adding: “Each of these issues has been dealt with as a ‘straw in the wind’. No-one looked for the haystack, which was undoubtedly blowing.”

The report concluded that “Islington did not initiate the type of investigation they should have”.

It went on: “Islington should have known and acted, they clearly did not.”

Allegations include claims that some children in care were working as prostitutes at children’s homes, some were gang-raped and knifed and some children were introduced to drugs. Allegations were made about the abuse of 25 children.

The White report “found no evidence to support allegations of organised abuse”.

However, with the exception  of one case, it said the council did not investigate the claims.

It said the state of some of the homes at the time “was very poor indeed” and said line management during the period it investigated was “very poor”.

The investigation also looked into claims of missing files and criticised record-keeping, although it found no evidence of collusion.

In 2017, the council leader issued a formal apology to the victims of child abuse in its homes “for the council’s past failings”.

It said that some children had been subject to abuse in its homes during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

It also formally apologised to Liz Davies, the social worker who first raised concerns and has set up the Islington Survivors Network.

Earlier this year, the Network said: “The proposal gives important recognition to survivors harmed in Islington’s care and restates the council leader’s apology in 2017, when he also admitted the council’s culpability.”

It said it knew of 42 children’s homes young people stayed at.

It also told the council that it wanted neglect included as a category of abuse, and the inclusion of survivors abused in Islington foster placements.

The council has agreed to include neglect in the payment scheme.

Islington Survivors Network has been approached for comment.