12:08, November 16 319 0 theguardian.com

2018-11-16 12:08:09
Whiplash bill is ruse to harm workers’ rights

On Tuesday of next week, the civil liability bill is expected to complete its passage through parliament. The government say that the bill will tackle a whiplash “epidemic”, but it hides a £1.3bn annual gift to the insurers, a loss to government coffers of £146m a year, and an assault on access to justice that will impact hundreds of thousands of people whose claims have nothing to do with whiplash.

By statutory instrument, the government plans to sneak through a doubling of the small claims limit, below which injured people don’t get their legal fees paid. Up to 40% of those injured at work will lose their rights. Thousands of workers will be left fighting insurers on their own and in their own time. Injured people whose claim has a value of up to £2,000 – thousands of people a year – will be expected to take on well-funded insurers on their own.

Increasing the small claims limit to £2,000 would mean that workers suffering injuries that include a collapsed lung, a fractured wrist or elbow and loss of front teeth, are denied access to justice.

The government’s proposed changes are a green light to irresponsible employers to cut corners on safety in the knowledge that injured workers will either not seek compensation or struggle to do so on their own. The government is using the furore around whiplash claims as a smokescreen to attack vulnerable claimants and further enrich their friends in the insurance industry (who have already saved £11bn since 2013 due to earlier injury legal reforms). Injured workers should be exempt from any increase, and on behalf of those injured through no fault of their own we intend to oppose these proposals every step of the way.

Paddy Lillis General secretary, Usdaw

Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite

Tim Roach General secretary, GMB

Dave Prentis General secretary, Unison

Mick Cash General secretary, RMT

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