Secretary of State Karen Bradley has been accused of using delaying tactics to stall legislation to compensate victims of institutional abuse.
It follows her decision to table 11 additional questions to the political parties about the proposed scheme.
The parties had reached agreement on four questions including increasing the minimum payout from £7,500 to £10,000.
Victims spokesman John McCourt said they were being subjected to “emotional blackmail”.
He said victims had little hope of getting the compensation they are entitled to.
On Monday, the parties criticised Mrs Bradley for her decision to table extra questions.
Sinn Féin’s vice-president Michelle O’Neill said it felt like a delaying tactic and that the news will only add to the suffering of the victims.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann also accused the secretary of state of holding up the process.
Alliance’s deputy leader Stephen Farry said: “In no way shape or form should victims be used as a pawn in the political process.”
Earlier, former DUP minister Edwin Poots said he spoke to Mrs Bradley over the weekend, and urged her to bring forward the legislation without further delay.
He added that she “cannot use the victims as a battering ram to get the parties to do other things”.
Mr McCourt, a spokesman for victims, said they may have to wait up to 12 months to get compensation for the abuse they suffered.
A tearful Mr McCourt said the secretary of state had admitted that she is not in charge of the timetable and suggested a restored executive could act within weeks
He said it now rests with Mrs Bradley to await the answers to the additional 11 questions.
He warned that some victims may not be alive by the time legislation goes through Westminster
Mrs Bradley defended the decision to release more questions, saying she wanted to conclude the process as quickly as possible.
She said the extra questions came from the Executive Office and would be forwarded to the parties as soon as possible.
Compensation for victims was recommended in 2017 after a public inquiry into abuse at children’s homes and other residential institutions run by the state, churches and charities.
But the power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive at Stormont collapsed just days after the inquiry report was published, stalling the plans for compensation.