Over £20 million in compensation has been paid out to members of the Windrush generation according to the Home Office.
The Home Secretary announced the Windrush Compensation Scheme has paid more than £6.2 million in April this year and has offered a further £9 million to applicants. The latest figures from the Home Office, brings the total amount paid out from the scheme so far, to over £20.4 million.
According to the published statistics, 687 people have been compensated.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am absolutely committed to putting right the terrible injustices faced by the Windrush generation under successive governments. I have been clear that I will listen to victims and act, which is why I overhauled the Compensation Scheme in December, and we are now seeing the positive impact of those changes on people’s lives with nearly £30 million paid or offered.” She also added she will continue to ensure payments are made quickly, she said: “I will continue to work tirelessly to make sure that more money continues to be paid more quickly.”
But in May, the National Audit Office (NAO) found the Windrush Compensation Scheme had not met its aim to pay victims of the Windrush scandal quickly.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NOA said: “The Windrush Compensation Scheme was rolled out before it was ready to receive applications and two years after it was launched, people are still facing long waits to receive their final compensation payment. Since December 2020, the Home Office has made some progress, but it needs to sustain its efforts to improve the scheme to ensure it fairly compensates members of the Windrush generation in acknowledgement of the suffering it has caused them.”
The watchdog added around 11,500 people are expected to be compensated. The estimated total is thought to be between £60 million and £260 million.
The Home Office made some drastic changes to the scheme in December 2020, after it was criticised for its long waits and small pay outs by victims, campaigners and community groups. The recent “overhaul” to the scheme, has seen minimum payments increase from £250 to £10,000.
The Home Office claims prior to the overhaul, the scheme offered an average of £294,000 per month and since then, the scheme has offered on average £5.8 million per month.
For Windrush Campaigner Patrick Vernon, he told The Voice, more needed to be done. He said: “The Home Office and the government have failed the Windrush generation and their families. We need to put pressure on Boris Johnson to remove the scheme from the Home Office and provide automatic payments of at least £20,000.”
He went to to condemn the scheme and added it needed to be more “user friendly.”
People are still being urged to come forward and apply to the compensation scheme if they feel they were caught up in the Windrush scandal.
In 2012, several immigration policies were put in place to demand people demonstrate they had a right to live or work in the UK, under then Home Secretary Theresa May. These changes were dubbed the “hostile environment policy.”
Thousands of people who had arrived legally in the UK from the Caribbean, as children, were unable to prove their right to work and live here, as they travelled to the UK on their parents’ passports – which was common practice up until 1998. Those who arrived from the Caribbean and settled in the UK, were granted indefinite leave to remain in 1971.
But in 2010, the Home Office destroyed thousands of “landing cards” for the Windrush generation and for some, this was the only proof they had of their legal arrival into Britain.
By 2012, when the “hostile environment” policy was introduced, many were unable to prove their legal status and were treated as illegal immigrants and lost jobs and homes as a result.
Many were denied access to NHS treatment, benefits, pensions because they were unable to prove their status in the UK. Those who were wrongfully deported, detained or threatened with deportation are also eligible to apply.
As well as the compensation scheme, the Home Office have also launched the Windrush Scheme to try and “right the wrongs” of the scandal.
The Windrush Scheme allows people to apply for a document to prove they can live and work in the UK. Applications to both the Windrush Scheme and Windrush Compensation Scheme are free.
For information on the Windrush Compensation Scheme go to: https://www.gov.uk/apply-windrush-compensation-scheme
For information on the Windrush Scheme go to: https://www.gov.uk/windrush-prove-your-right-to-be-in-the-uk