How does the Hardship Fund work for victims of criminal injury?

If we become a victim of criminal injury it can have serious consequences for our financial as well as our physical health. If you are relatively low-paid and find yourself unable to work the impact can be considerable.

If your injuries are not deemed serious enough to qualify you for Criminal Injury Compensation, are unable to work and have no other recourse to financial support, then you may be eligible for financial assistance from The Hardship Fund.

What is the Hardship Fund?

The Hardship Fund is a discretionary scheme that was set up to provide limited financial relief for very lowly paid workers who may be temporarily unable to work as a direct result of being a victim of violent crime. It fills a gap for people whose injuries do not fall into the tariff of injuries in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012.

The fund was set-up to help victims who have no other financial support, such as Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Similar to SSP, if you’re unable to work the fund will begin to provide support after your fourth day of absence from work for up to 28 days, provided the applicant has been unable to work for a continuous period of at least 7 days. The maximum you can receive is capped at the equivalent of four weeks SSP. The fund applies to injuries sustained in England & Wales.

Read more: The Hardship Fund on GOV.UK

Who is eligible?

The Hardship Fund is targeted at people on low incomes. You may be eligible if:

  • You earn less than £120 a week.
  • You’re not in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or an equivalent employer related scheme.
  • You were injured in England & Wales on or after November 27th, 2012 as a result of being a direct victim of crime. This means you were injured by a direct assault of a criminal.
  • You couldn’t work for at least 7 days as a result of the attack, having sustained either physical or mental injuries.
  • Your injuries are not eligible for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012.
  • You don’t have any unspent criminal convictions. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 doesn’t allow anyone with unspent convictions, which resulted in a custodial sentence or community order, to access any kind of financial assistance.  This applies if the convictions are unspent at the time the application is made. If you have other types of unspent convictions, payment will be either reduced or withheld unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you committed a motoring offence for which the penalty was a fine or penalty points, then you will not usually be barred from financial assistance, nor will any payment be reduced.

What you must do

If you’ve been the victim of a crime that has resulted in injuries, you must report them to the police within 48 hours of the crime. An application must be made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority within 8 weeks of the date of the incident.  

How to apply

You can’t apply directly to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for a payment from the Hardship Fund. Instead, applications are made by way of referral after following an initial assessment of your eligibility by Victim Support.

What is Victim Support?

Victim Support is an independent charity who work to support victims of crime and traumatic incidents in England and Wales. They exist to help people get the support they need to enable them to get their lives back on track. Their service is entirely confidential, unless they feel that there’s a risk to the personal safety of the people involved.

Your nearest Victim Support care team will be able to provide advice and other support. You can find the details of your local branch on their website.

What you will need for your initial assessment

For your assessment with Victim Support you will need to provide a number of documents:

  • A crime reference number from the police. This will help Victim Support and the CICA confirm that you were a victim of a violent crime that was reported to the police.
  • A letter from your employer or a pay statement stating that you’re not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.
  • If you are self-employed, a copy of your most recent tax return to confirm that you earn less than the maximum income threshold for Hardship Fund assistance.
  • A copy of a certificate from your doctor, sometimes called a ‘fit note’, confirming that you’ve been unable to work for at least 7 consecutive days as a direct result of being a victim of violent crime.

Once Victim Support have made an initial assessment, and confirmed you are eligible to apply, they will then ask you to provide signed consent for the release of all records, necessary evidence and any other relevant documentation about you and your injury. This will then be forwarded to Victim Support to process.

They will then send your application to CICA, who will check the crime number to see if you have any unspent criminal convictions. Once they have this information, they usually aim to process your application within 6 days.

Impact on benefits

If you’re in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA), you must immediately inform the Department of Work & Pensions about any change in your circumstances. Any payments you receive from the Hardship Fund will be considered when the income contingent levels of ESA are calculated.

Experienced Criminal Injury support from Mark Reynolds Solicitors

The experienced team at Mark Reynolds Solicitors understand the complexities of the criminal injury compensation system. You can find out more about how we can help here.

Contact us today for confidential professional advice about your case.