Victims of crime who suffer blurred vision, a dislocated jaw, or who require knee surgery, are some of those who could lose the right to claim compensation under new plans.

COMPENSATION is one of the many ways courts can punish criminals, but newmoney-saving proposals could see the payments cut or scrapped completely for thousands of victims currently entitled to it.

AMinistry of Justice consultation paper called ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses’ has set out proposals to reduce or remove entirely the compensation paid to victims of violent crime through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS).

Since 1964, there has been a state scheme in place to compensate victims of violent crime, the 37,000 people who are seriously injured at the hands of criminals each year.

At present, anyone injured in a violent crime while in Great Britain is entitle to claim, but costcutting ideas being proposed by the Westminster government would see thousands of people no longer eligible to claim compensation.

Since 1996, physical and mental injuries have been classified in bands, from one to 25, with the amount awarded increasing the further up the scale.

The plan is to scrap bands one to five and reduce payouts for bands six to 12.

Injuries covered in bands one to five include minor sprains and fractures, temporary partial deafness, blurred vision, dislocated shoulders, fractured hands, injuries requiring knee surgery, dislocated jaws and injuries to teeth. Around 18,640 victims of violent crime suffer these types of injuries each year.

However, awards made for minor physical abuse of children, injuries from sexual offences and serious intermittent physical abuse of children or adults would be protected.

Injuries in bands six to 12, which face being cut by up to 60 per cent, include minor head injuries, a loss of teeth, partial deafness, moderate burns, a detached retina, punctured lungs, minor brain damage and permanent disabling dislocations and fractures.

Around 15,350 victims claim for these types of injuries each year.

Everything from band 13 upwards, which ranges from a loss of an organ and severe burns to total paralysis and covers payments worth between £11,000 and £250,000, will remain the same.

Around 3,240 people a year suffer these serious injuries.

When referring to the lower bands which could be scrapped in its consultation paper, the Ministry of Justice says: “We do not believe that small compensation payments after the event are the most effective way to help victims recover from the effects of crime.”

It is estimated that by slashing or getting rid of these compensation payments, Westminster could save itself between £35m and £45m each year.

Changes being suggested also include limiting compensation for loss of earnings.

At the moment, past loss of earnings are paid after the first 28 weeks, when statutory sick pay stops, until the date the claim is decided.

Future loss of earnings is paid based on the number of years the victim would be expected to work until retirement or their life expectancy, whichever is sooner, provided future earnings can be demonstrated had the person not suffered injury.

This is capped at 1.5 times the median gross weekly earnings, up to £39,000 a year Under plans, this cap would drop to 60 per cent of the median gross weekly earnings at the time of assessment, equivalent to around £12,600 - the minimum wage - and would be reduced if relevant benefits were paid or if the victim were paid compensation or civil damages from the offender.

The alternative being suggested is to pay a flat rate amount based on statutory sick pay, around £81.60 a week or £4,200 a year.

Mandy Wilmot, Victim Support’s divisional manager for South Wales and Gwent, said: “We would wish to see all compensation awards for victims protected from cuts, we do not support the removal of the lower bands, or the reduction in bands six - 12, but the most important thing is that payments to victims of the most serious crimes are protected and that CIC is put on a secure financial footing.

“We do not believe that loss of earnings payments should be capped, this would significantly disadvantage medium to high earners who could no longer work because of their injuries.”

John Hannett, General Secretary of the shop workers’ union Usdaw, said: “For the victims forced to take time off work as a result of the criminal assault, the injuries are not trivial and the compensation certainly isn’t trivial. Many face reductions in income they can ill afford and some may even be tipped into severe financial trouble. In many cases the compensation provides a financial lifeline to workers who have lost income through absolutely no fault of their own.”

Prior to the plans being discussed in the House of Lords last month, nine MPs, seven Labour, one Liberal Democrat and one Social Democrat and Labour, tabled a motion calling on the coalition government to withdrawplans to cut or abolish compensation.

The Ministry of Justice said the changes will be discussed in Parliament in September with a viewto being brought in as soon as parliamentary time allows.