Bolton taxpayers' £150,000 bill for school injury compensation claims
COMPENSATION totalling more than £150,000 was paid out after children were injured in school — with one pay-out more than £24,000.
Bolton Council had the biggest bill in Greater Manchester — only Manchester paid more.
There were 50 claims from pupils who suffered “personal injury” at primary and secondary schools.
The council paid out for 14 — a total of £150,881.70 including legal fees.
Classroom accidents attracted the biggest pay-outs.
The lowest amount paid out was £671 for ice or leaves on a footpath.
Unlike other authorities, Bolton Council refused to release details of the claims — and categorised the cause of incidents as classroom supervision; children’s playground, accident on council premises, footpath, drains blocked/overflow, use of sports equipment and footpath.
A Bolton Council spokesman said: “When a claim is submitted, we assess the claim and carry out a thorough investigation.
“We have a duty to protect public money and always carry out a full investigation of each claim before any decision is made on whether to pay a claim.
"However, we also have an absolute duty of care to all pupils in our care whilst at school, so if the school or council is at fault, we do acknowledge this and pay accordingly.”
Cllr Kevin McKeon, Bolton Council's Cabinet member for Schools, added: “If people are injured in school they have a legal right to redress.
“Schools are very safe places and are increasingly so.
“There may be some people who are litigious, that is to be regretted.”
Greater Manchester schools paid out more than £1.5 million in compensation, which Eccles-based Employment Law Advisory Service said was because of “basic health and safety failings”.
The company’s lead health and safety consultant, Wayne Dunning, said: “These figures are shocking, and clearly not enough is being done to protect children in schools from what are, in the main, preventable accidents.
Bolton Council said it was unable to release details of the claims citing “legal reasons” but added it was not accusing other authorities of breaking the law by releasing such details.
Cllr Martyn Cox, vice-chairman of Bolton Council’s children’s services scrutiny committee, said: “This pervasive compensation culture is a national scandal.
“Hard working texpayers are seeing the money they hand over to pay for education finish up in the pockets of compensation lawyers.”
Julia Simpkins, secretary of the Bolton-branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Schools are not more dangerous places than they used to be.
“Teachers have to carry out risk assessments for everything and there are things teachers will no longer do.
“The incidents where the child was awarded a lot of money must have been awful and we do not want children to be injured while at school which we want to be safe places.
“But I think in some cases where at one time if a child was injured it was an accident but now they will look for someone to blame and partly there is that culture.”
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