Guidance

The Hardship Fund — a guide

A guide to applying for a payment from the Hardship Fund. The fund helps low paid workers who are victims of crime.

Introduction

What is the Hardship Fund?

The Hardship Fund (‘the Fund’) is a discretionary fund available to provide some relief from financial hardship for very low paid workers who are temporarily unable to work as a direct result of being a victim of a crime of violence and whose injuries do not fall within the tariff of injuries in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012.

The Fund seeks to ease the financial hardship of those who have no recourse to other sources of financial assistance - for example those who do not receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The payment is based on the current weekly rate of SSP. It will provide financial support, from the fourth to the 28th day of absence, provided the applicant has been unable to work for a period of seven consecutive days.

The maximum is capped at the equivalent of four weeks SSP (less the first three days).

The Fund applies to injuries sustained in England and Wales and is capped at £500,000 per year.

The Fund will be administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (‘the Authority’) following the referral of an application based on an initial assessment of eligibility by Victim Support.

Eligibility

Circumstances in which you may be eligible for a payment

You may get a payment if you:

  • sustained an injury in England or Wales on or after 27 November 2012 as a result of being a direct victim of a crime of violence. A direct victim is someone who was directly injured by an assailant. Annex B of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 describes the types of crimes of violence which can lead to an injury and is to be applied to this Fund;

  • were unable to work for a period of at least 7 consecutive days as a consequence of an injury (physical or mental) sustained as a result of being a direct victim of a crime of violence;

  • earn less than the minimum amount needed to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP);

  • are not in receipt of SSP or an equivalent employer-provided scheme this means that if you are eligible for payment under SSP or an equivalent employer-provided scheme you would not be eligible for payment under this Fund.

  • do not have any unspent criminal convictions which under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 would bar you from an award. A payment under the Hardship Fund will not be made to an applicant who on the date of application has an unspent conviction which resulted in either a custodial sentence or a community order (see further, Annex D of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012). In the case of other unspent convictions, a payment will be reduced or withheld unless there are exceptional circumstances. Applicants with motoring offences for which the only penalty imposed was one or more of an endorsement, penalty points or a fine under Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 are exempt from this provision and will not generally have their payments reduced.

You must report your injuries to the police as soon as is reasonably practicable (but normally within 48 hours of the incident taking place) and we must receive an application to the Fund within eight weeks of the date of the incident.

Please note if you are in receipt of or have applied for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), you will need to inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of your change in circumstances immediately. You can do this by contacting them direct on 0845 602 7301. Any payments made from the Hardship Fund will be taken into account when considering the level of income-related ESA that you receive.

Further eligibility requirements

You cannot get a payment if:

  • you were injured before 27 November 2012;

  • you did not report the incident to the police as soon as reasonably practicable (normally within 48 hours of the incident taking place);

  • you did not make an application to the Fund within eight weeks of the date of the incident;

  • you sustained an injury which is eligible for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 (i.e. one that falls within the tariff of injuries in that Scheme).

How do you apply for a payment?

Applications to the Fund are by way of referral following an initial assessment of eligibility by Victim Support. They will assist you in making your application. We ONLY consider applications that are referred by Victim Support.

Victim Support is an independent national charity for people affected by crime. They provide free and confidential support, and practical help to victims and witnesses of crime. You can contact them by visiting their website at www.victimsupport.org.uk or telephoning your nearest Victim Care Unit below:

North East Region County Durham, Northumbria & Teeside: 0845 277 0977

North West Region Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside: 0300 303 1979

Greater Manchester 0161 200 1950

Yorkshire & Humber Region Humber, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire: 0300 303 1971

East Midlands Region Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire: 0300 303 1947

West Midlands Region Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire: 0300 303 1977

Wales 0845 612 1900

South West Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire: 0845 456 6099

South East Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Berkshire: 0845 38 99 528

East of England Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire: 0845 456 5995

London 0845 450 3936

It is your responsibility to prove that you are eligible for a payment and you will need to supply the following evidence to Victim Support to allow them to make an initial assessment of your eligibility:

  • A crime reference number - this will help Victim Support and CICA to confirm that you were a victim of a crime of violence which was reported to the police;

  • A pay statement or letter from your employer to show that your average weekly earnings are less than the minimum amount needed to qualify for SSP (before tax);

  • If you are self-employed, a copy of your most recent tax returns to show that your income is less than the minimum amount needed to qualify for SSP (before tax);

  • A copy of a certificate (Fit Note) from your medical practitioner which shows you have been unable to work for at least 7 consecutive days as a direct result of being a victim of a crime of violence.

Please note that for absences of 7 consecutive days, you will still need to provide a copy of your Fit Note from your medical practitioner. A copy of your self-certification form will not be accepted as evidence by Victim Support or by us.

Once Victim Support have made an initial assessment they will complete an application and ask you to provide a signed consent for the release of all records, evidence and other relevant information about you and the circumstances of your injury. This will be sent to us to process.

How we will deal with your claim

Once we have received a fully completed application from Victim Support we will:

  • contact the police to confirm details of the incident; and

  • conduct a criminal records check to establish if you have any unspent convictions which will have to be taken into account.

Following receipt of all the information detailed above, we will aim to process applications within 6 working days of receiving all necessary documentation.

We will inform you of our decision on your claim as soon as it is made. If we have reduced or refused a payment (if, for example, you have unspent convictions), we will tell you why.

How we will make a payment

We will only accept an instruction to make a payment to you. This will be paid directly into your bank/building society account.

Published 8 August 2014