Priti Patel’s Home Office should be stripped of responsibility for the Windrush compensation scheme, MPs said after a “litany of flaws” was identified in the way it operates.
‘Fear, humiliation, and hurt’
The cross-party Commons Home Affairs Committee said the scheme should be transferred to an independent organisation to increase trust and encourage more applications. The MPs said the design of the scheme contained the same “bureaucratic insensitivities” that led to the Windrush scandal in the first place, which was a “damning indictment of the Home Office”.
The scheme was set up to compensate members of the Windrush generation who were wrongly denied their lawful immigration status as a result of Home Office policies. The MPs found that, as of the end of September, only 20.1% of the initially estimated 15,000 eligible claimants had applied, just 5.8% had received any payment, and 23 individuals had died without receiving compensation.
The committee said:
The treatment of the Windrush generation by successive governments and the Home Office was truly shameful.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
No amount of compensation could ever repay the fear, the humiliation and the hurt that was caused both to individuals and to communities affected.
It was “deeply troubling” that the Home Office’s handling of claims “has repeated the same mistakes which led to the Windrush scandal in the first place”.
Claimants face a “daunting application process”, “unreasonable requests for evidence”, and were “left in limbo in the midst of inordinate delays”, the committee’s report said.
“Too often, injustice has been compounded rather than compensated,” the MPs said. “This is unacceptable and must not continue.”
A Home Office spokesperson said:
The Home Secretary and the department remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that members of the Windrush generation receive every penny of compensation that they are entitled to.
The Home Secretary overhauled the scheme in December to ensure more money is paid more quickly – since then the amount of compensation paid has risen from less than £3 million to over £31.6 million, with a further £5.6 million having been offered. There is no cap on the amount of compensation we will pay out.
We are pleased this report welcomes the changes made to the scheme in December and we continue to make improvements, such as simplifying the application process, hiring more caseworkers and removing the end date.
We firmly believe that moving the operation of the scheme out of the Home Office would risk significantly delaying vital payments to those affected.
The MPs behind the report argue the reforms have not gone far enough. The committee’s Labour chairwoman Yvette Cooper said:
It has been four years since the Windrush scandal emerged and it is truly shocking how few people have received any compensation for the hardship they endured at the hands of the Home Office.
It is particularly distressing that 23 individuals have died without receiving any compensation.
Urgent action is needed to get compensation to those who have been so badly wronged.
She said it was ”staggering, given the failures of the Windrush scandal, that the Home Office has allowed some of the same problems to affect the Windrush Compensation Scheme too”.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?