The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has announced changes to the Victims Support Scheme which significantly reduce the time it takes to deliver payments to victims of crime.
Secretary of DCJ, Michael Coutts-Trotter said further changes, to be introduced this week (1 July), would empower victim-survivors to choose their own approved counsellor.
“Victim-survivors seeking recognition payments will have up to 12 months to provide evidence of their injuries, from the time of making their application,” Mr Coutts-Trotter said.
“Improvements to the scheme last year mean victims of crime are now receiving urgent financial support for their immediate needs within 12 days and record levels of free counselling,” he said.
“We want to build on the success of these changes to dramatically reduce how long it takes victim-survivors to receive recognition payments.”
Mr Coutts-Trotter said recognition payments acknowledged the trauma suffered by victims due to violence.
“All of the improvements to the Victims Support Scheme are designed to help victim-survivors get the support they need faster and more effectively so they can focus on the healing process,” he said.
“On average, it is now taking just 12 days to process an immediate needs application – compared to 73 days last year.”
He said Victims Services was available to help any victim-survivor, including those with particular vulnerabilities, with their application.