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UK Government to Unveil £10 Billion Compensation for Contaminated Blood Scandal Victims



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The UK government is set to reveal a compensation package in excess of £10 billion ($12.7 billion) this week for victims of a decades-old contaminated blood scandal, an attempt to draw a line under one of the worst injustices in recent British history.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is due to make a statement in Parliament on Monday afternoon and apologize to the victims of the scandal, according to a person familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is then expected to announce details of the compensation package as soon as Tuesday, the person said.

The government’s apology and compensation relates to some 30,000 people who were infected with HIV and hepatitis C after being treated in the 1970s and 1980s with blood products and transfusions. Victims’ groups have expressed anger at years of delays over receiving the payouts and a final report about their suffering will also be published on Monday.

“This is the worst scandal of my lifetime,” Hunt said in an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper ahead of the compensation being announced. “Rishi Sunak and I both believe the delays have gone on too long and now is the time for justice.”

Payouts will be made to the infected and others affected, such as relatives, a separate person familiar with the matter has previously said. Infected Blood Inquiry Chairman Brian Langstaff, whose report will be published Monday, has recommended interim payments of £100,000 to relatives of those who have died, and the government says £400 million has already been paid out. Total compensation could rise as high as £20 billion, according to one of the people familiar.

The outlay on compensation comes at a fiscally difficult moment for Hunt, who has said he wants to announce another tax cut for voters in the autumn with one eye on a general election expected this year. Yet the chancellor has little room for maneuver — he met his key fiscal target at the Budget in March with just £8.9 billion to spare, a margin near historic lows.

Cutting another 2 percentage points off the main rate of national insurance — a payroll tax, and Hunt’s preferred next step — would cost about £9 billion.

When asked whether he was being forced to choose between pre-election tax cuts and the compensation payments, Hunt told the Sunday Times: “Sometimes you have to take a decision that goes beyond numbers and is just about justice. This is one of those rare decisions that comes across a chancellor or a prime minister’s desk where you just have to be very clear about the difference between right and wrong.”

Some in the government have talked down the fiscal impact of the compensation: one official said the Treasury would be able to treat the sum as a one-off in the short term that doesn’t affect the government’s long-term tax and spending plans.

“It has taken far too long to get to this,” Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said on the BBC on Sunday, referring to the compensation payments. “It’s heartbreaking and it’s the system over decades having let down these families.”Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. for free today.

Rachel Adams

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