Chancellor denies delaying infected blood compensation payouts

Thousands of patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s. Credit: PA

The chancellor has denied delaying compensation payments to victims of the infected blood scandal, after nearly 120 MPs wrote to him demanding he allocate funding for it in the Budget on Wednesday.

Jeremy Hunt insisted: "I am personally committed to paying victims of the contaminated blood scandal as quickly as possible."

"I was the health secretary who set up the inquiry, and I've given evidence to the inquiry twice", he said.

However, Mr Hunt said compensation would not be paid until the inquiry into the scandal had concluded.

The chancellor says he's committed to delivering compensation but not until after the inquiry into the scandal has concluded.

The inquiry is due to finish on May 20 - but in April 2023, the chair of the inquiry Sir Brian Langstaff, recommended a "compensation scheme should be set up now and it should begin this year."

Tens of thousands of people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

In a letter sent on Thursday, cross-party MPs called on the chancellor to "provide reassurance" that the Budget will "explicitly address the contaminated blood scandal and enable the urgent delivery of compensation".

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Victims and their families also staged a mass lobby at Westminster last week to demand action on compensation.

Last week Shadow Cabinet Office minister Nick Thomas-Symonds asked the Commons: “So, with the Budget scheduled for next week, can the minister tell the victims’ groups, who have waited for so long, if he has persuaded the chancellor to include the funding for the scheme in that Budget, and when will the first substantive payments be made?”

Cabinet Office minister John Glen replied: “I think he will understand that I can’t pre-announce aspects of the Budget, but the general point he is making about urgency is one that I hear, as I said to him when I met before the February recess.”

In December, the House of Commons defeated the government to ensure ministers must establish a body to administer the full compensation scheme within three months of the Victims and Prisoners Bill becoming law.

To date, more than 3,000 people who contracted illnesses through infected blood have died.

A public inquiry was set up in 2017 - hearing evidence from hundreds of people affected - before its final recommendations to compensate them were made last year.

Some 82 people have died since the inquiry recommended full compensation to those affected in April 2023.

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