Govt publishes Troubles pension eligibility guidance

The Northern Irish (NI) Office and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, have published guidance detailing the eligibility criteria for the Troubles victims’ pension scheme.

The Victims’ Payments Scheme will provide benefits to victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the late 20th century.

Those living with a permanent disablement caused by serious injury “through no fault of their own” in Troubles-related incidents will be eligible.

The guidance explains that those injured “at their own hand” will not be eligible and provides for the establishment of an independent board that will make case-by-case decisions.

Anyone who had a criminal conviction where they were found to have caused serious harm to anyone else should not ordinarily receive benefits.

However, the government stated that it was not for the government to prejudge the board’s decisions, with the guidance intended to be helpful in setting out guiding principles for decision-making.

The guidance added that it would not be appropriate for payments to be made to people who have a serious conviction for an offence that caused serious harm to others or who have a recent conviction for a terrorist-related offence.

However, if the board decides to award benefits in such cases, the government reserves the ability to intervene.

Under the guidance, the newly established board can decide that payments are inappropriate due to a range of factors, including the harm caused to someone else by the offence for which the applicant has a relevant conviction for, the specific nature of the offence and length of sentence, the age at the time of offence, or the passage of time since that offence and the individual’s behaviour since.

Both the UK and NI governments have faced recent criticism over the delays to pension payments to victims of the Troubles.

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