The Scottish Government should set up a multi-million pound fund to compensate victims of historic child abuse, an expert panel has concluded.

The review group, set up by ministers, was tasked with consulting on whether a scheme should be established and how it should work.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children (Celcis), who managed the process, said virtually everyone who responded said a fund should be established to help provide justice to those who were abused as children in state care.

Herald view: Cash for child abuse victims is long overdue

The report does not set a price on how generous the scheme should be, leaving that as a decision for deputy first minister John Swinney. However similar funds have offered victims of historic abuse in countries such as Australia, Sweden and Ireland flat rate payments of between £7,000 and £20,000 each.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is encouraging more victims to come forward as it proceeds. Its case study of one organisation alone has taken evidence from more than 100 witnesses, the majority of them previously unknown to the authorities.

Simon Collins, lawyer for Scottish abuse victims' group Incas (In Care Abuse Survivors) said Lady Smith has already indicated the inquiry will scrutinise more than 20 such case studies.

he said. "The review group has taken the view that providing redress is the right thing to do", he said. "I would hope the pot for this would not be capped."

He also said the group was right to recommend organisations responsible for abuse, such as councils, church orders and charities – should contribute to any fund. "If the government has to pick up the table it would still be open for those organisations responsible for the care of the children - although not legally compelled to - to recognise a moral obligation to contribute to the costs."

Groups representing abuse survivors welcomed the report, and called for the Scottish Government to implement its findings in full.

However they expressed concern that legislation to establish a compensation scheme may not even be passed until March 2021.

Alan Draper, spokesman for Scottish abuse victims' group Incas (In Care Abuse Survivors) said another recommendation - for an interim system to make payments to sick or elderly abuse survivors who may not live long enough to take part in the compensation scheme - should be implemented as soon as possible.

Herald view: Cash for child abuse victims is long overdue

We support the recommendations 100 per cent," he said. "This is something we have been pushing for for years. But March 2021 is a long way off."

He said he was thinking of veteran campaigner Frank Docherty, a founder of Incas, who died last year. "The Scottish Government is fully aware of these issues. There has been enough hanging around and we expect them to adopt the recommendations in full, and put interim payments in place for those who need them within the next six months."

The review recommends the scheme should offer flat rate payments to all victims, with an "individual experience" element to reflect the nature of the specific abuse they suffered and its impact.

Other countries including Australia, have already set up schemes. In Western Australia victims' individual payments were initially capped at AUS $80,000 (£45,000), but this was subsequently slashed as the fund began to run out of money.

Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director at CELCIS, which is based at Strathclyde University, said:

“Care should help children to reach their full potential, and nurturing and safe care is happening every day throughout Scotland.

"Where abuse in care has happened, it is a grave injustice that can create lifelong harm. We have a responsibility as a society to ensure that forms of redress are in place for those that need and want this, as we strive to prevent abuse and protect children now and in the future.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said he was grateful for the "substantial and serious piece of work based upon engagement with survivors."

He added: "We will now give the recommendations early, detailed and sensitive consideration, and report back to Parliament in due course.

"We recognise the hurt and damage caused to those who were abused in childhood by the very institutions who should have cared for them, and will continue to work closely with survivors and their representatives.”