The next Westminster government must make enacting proposed changes to riot compensation laws “a priority” according to the chair of London’s spending watchdog.
London’s 2011 riots led to more than 4,000 compensation claims against the Met Police, including claims for consequential losses covering loss of profit, rent and other associated costs.
Many small businesses complained about delays in receiving compensation, a concern echoed in a London Assembly report which said more could have been done to speed up payments.
The Home Office has now published a new draft Riot Compensation Bill which addresses a number of issues raised by the Assembly, including ensuring greater coordination and consistency in payouts by establishing a Riot Claims Bureau to handle damages claims arising out of significant disorder.
The new law would also reverse a court ruling that makes the police liable for consequential losses and introduce “limited coverage” for motorists whose insurance policies exclude riot cover.
However with just two weeks left of the current Parliament it will fall to the next government to introduce the new law.
John Biggs, chair of the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee, says this must be done as “a priority”.
He said: “While we may prefer not to think about such things we have a duty to learn from past experience and bring the law into the modern age.
“The success of any final Act will also depend on the speed with which claims are paid – cashflow is critical to the success or otherwise of small businesses.
“We also need to make sure the detail of the final Act offers real protection for vehicles and is clear about what is a ‘riot’.”