MORE than 1000 survivors of abuse in Scotland's children homes are still waiting to be assigned a case worker as a backlog mounts in the Scottish Government's compensation scheme, new figures have revealed.

Ministers revealed that the applications for financial redress of 1167 victims have yet to reach the initial stage of being examined, according to details released under freedom of information today.

Just 125 applications have got underway since the scheme, which campaigners had long demanded, opened in December last year.

"There are 1167 applications to Scotland’s Redress Scheme that do not currently have a named case worker allocated," officials stated in response to inquiries under FOI legislation.

"All applications to Scotland’s Redress Scheme are reviewed by a case worker within six weeks of submission. This process identifies if further information is required or if applications are ready to allocate to a named case worker to undertake the required verification checks, ahead of seeking applicant approval to send to Redress Scotland.

"I have interpreted “completed and ready” as applications that contain all of the required information and are ready for allocation to a named case worker to undertake verification checks, ahead of seeking applicant approval to send to Redress Scotland. 125 applications fall into this category."

The Scottish Government was asked following the recruitment of more case workers why some survivors were "stuck in queues" despite cases being ready to be processed.

"We recognise that – for many applicants – the process is taking longer than they expected," officials said.

"It may be helpful to share that we have reviewed our ways of working and have introduced changes to improve this experience for survivors and applicants.

"This change sees an increased focus on the case working team contacting, offering support, and progressing the applications for all applicants, with a view to allocating a named caseworker when the application is largely complete and approaching the stage of being ready to send to Redress Scotland for consideration.

"In the event that a survivor has a terminal illness, it remains the case that this is allocated immediately to a caseworker. Priority will also still be given to those applicants who are over the age of 68."

Scottish Conservative Shadow Justice Secretary Jamie Greene MSP: “No amount of money can ever make up for the appalling abuse these survivors suffered, but the redress scheme at least gave them the promise of a formal apology and some compensation for their ordeal.

“However, the scheme has continued to endure significant problems and it is simply not good enough that over 1100 survivors are still waiting to even have a caseworker assigned.

“If these shortcomings are not urgently addressed, then this will represent a betrayal of victims. They cannot continue to endure these delays, so ministers must fix the ongoing flaws within the redress scheme.”

The redress scheme covers physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect and is open to people who were under 18 before December 2004 and being cared for "in a relevant care setting" such as a children's home, including those run by religious orders like the Sisters of Nazareth, or in foster care.

Compensation is paid for by organisations responsible for abuse and by the taxpayer, with claims considered by a body called Redress Scotland, set up by the Scottish Government to recognise and acknowledge what happened, and the harm this abuse caused. 

Survivors can apply for payments ranging from £10,000 up to £100,000.

Victims have previously accused of being 'betrayed' by the Scottish Government amid claims the compensation scheme had descended into 'chaos'.

Survivors of historical abuse - many of them sick and elderly - have claimed they have been treated like 'second-class citizens' after long hold-ups in securing payouts.

They claim a shortage of staff processing the claims means victims have had to wait for their promised cash under the initiative.

Meanwhile, an inquiry led by Lady Anne Smith into abuse in children's homes is continuing.

It was set up in October 2015 and has heard evidence from former residents of children's homes and adults who spent part of their childhood in foster care.

In September last year, the Scottish Government apologised "unreservedly" for what was described as a "woeful and wholly avoidable" 13-year delay in setting up the public inquiry.

Lady Smith had said the government "failed to grasp" the survivors' need for justice.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry covers the period which is within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse, up until 17 December 2014. 

The inquiry was set up to investigate the nature and extent of abuse of children whilst in care in Scotland during the period concerned and to consider the extent to which institutions and bodies failed in their duty to protect them from abuse.

A further remit is to create a national public record of the scandal and to examine how abuse affected and still affects these victims in the long term.

It will report to ministers with recommendations to improve the law, policies and practices in Scotland.