Families acting as wards of court for relatives with serious injuries have called for a full “look back” review of how their funds were invested by the State after claims that some of their compensation suffered severe “depletions” due to the economic crash.
A spokesperson for the individuals, who have asked for their identities to be kept secret but are willing to meet with the Dáil public accounts committee privately to discuss the concerns, made the comments in response to a detailed report into the issue by the cross-party group.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, a mother for one of the people affected said she and other members of the group are pleased with the PAC’s call for the funds to be independently assessed by the Comptroller & Auditor General in the future.
However, she said the issue does little to help families understand why their compensation funds have dropped starkly in recent years, including one whose support levels have fallen by more than €300,000 in the past decade.
The spokesperson said the only way to address the matter fully is for the Comptroller & Auditor General to be allowed conduct a full “look back” review of fund levels over at least the past decade, claiming previous attempts by families to obtain full information from the Courts Service have been unsuccessful.
The group said while it welcomes the recommendations put forward by the Dáil’s spending watchdog, some have been made before without any developments.
The spokesperson said that after previous PAC meetings in 2001 and 2003, there were calls for an independent periodic review of how wards of court funds are invested in order to make the information more readily available to all of the families involved. However, there has been little progress to date.
The group includes people whose relatives have suffered severe physical injuries and mental health difficulties as a result of accidents and medical mishaps in childhood that are continuing to affect them.
The comments were made after a PAC report called for a regular independent review of how the Court Service invests the wards of court funding due to concerns some funds have been damaged by the recession.
The report noted that the €1.47bn total fund suffered a 17% fall in 2008 alone.
In correspondence to the PAC contained in the report and during a November 20 meeting with the body, the Courts Service insisted it is looking after the funds appropriately and that there is no question over how the money is invested. It said this is because the investments are “conservative” in order to protect the initial payment level.
Wards of court families who wish to contact the group are asked to email email@example.com
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