UK

MP Steve Reed Criticises Lack Of Compensation For Victims Of 2011 London Riots

05/06/2013 21:22 BST | Updated 05/06/2013 21:24 BST

More than £200 million of government cash set aside for victims of the 2011 Riots remains unclaimed, a Labour MP has said.

Steve Reed, the MP for Croydon North, said the Metropolitan Police revealed there had been payments of £35.8 million out of the £250 million fund in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request answer.

Reed said he also believes the Government abandoned victims of the riots once the media spotlight had disappeared from those affected areas.

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The Reeves furniture shop in Croydon was set alight and became an iconic image of the riots worlwide

He told a Commons adjournment debate on the issue tonight: "It's almost two years now since the riots hit Croydon.

"Businesses were burnt to the ground, shops were looted, homes were destroyed, the Prime Minister and Mayor of London walked along the devastated London Road in the central point of Croydon and promised people they would not be forgotten, and while the state had failed to protect them during the riots it would stand by them as they try to rebuild their lives."

He added: "They (people in Croydon) feel completely abandoned by a Government that promised to help them when the TV cameras were on but walked way when the media glare died down."

Reed added the Met Police rejected outright half of all compensation claims submitted.

He said: "Yet the Government continues to claim, and I fear will make that claim again tonight, that the majority of cases have now been settled.

"Well, the Government may have closed the files but the cases have not been settled to the satisfaction of the people who were affected. They feel very much the Government has given up on them and walked away."

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Burnt out cars in Ealing Broadway the night after rioting swept through the west London borough

Reed told of cases where people are still being asked to pay mortgages on buildings which had burned down and also asked the Government to look into disputed claims.

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, voiced concerns about insurance premiums rising in areas damaged during the riots, which could result in some boroughs having no insurance cover at all.

Replying for the Government, Justice Minister Damian Green said care had to be taken when dealing with compensation claims as taxpayers' money is involved.

He said the Department for Communities and Local Government had paid out £10.8 million to help people in the aftermath of the disorder.

Green said the cost of policing the riots was £97 million, which had been met by the Government.

The Conservative added it was important to have the facts and figures on the record.

Green said: "I note from local media coverage in March this year that it was claimed as many as 40 claims for compensation under the Riot Damages Act appeared to be outstanding in Croydon alone.

"That is simply not the case as there are only 11 uninsured cases nationally that remain unresolved, nine of which are in the Metropolitan Police area."

Green said the latest compensation figures showed 577 uninsured claims were originally made and five remain outstanding, while a further 716 uninsured claims were later received by the force largely after insurance companies had denied claims. He said six remain unresolved.

Green said the largest number of unresolved claims related to insurance companies seeking compensation from police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for reimbursing policy holders.

He said 3,935 claims were made and 270 are outstanding.

Green said: "So far PCCs, and in London the Mayor's office for policing and crime, have paid out just over £30 million in claims.

"The Government made a commitment at the start of riots to stand behind the costs incurred by police forces in meeting Riot Damages Act costs as that was another potential problem.

"We have done this and will continue to do so until the few remaining claims are concluded. So far the Government has paid out around £30 million to forces to meet the cost of the Riot Damages Act."

He added: "It's important to bear in mind at the outset that this compensation is ultimately paid by the taxpayer and in that regard claims need to be properly substantiated."