Windrush scandal: Only 5% of victims have received compensation, the report says

In recent years, the British government has been heavily criticized for its treatment of migrants traveling across the Atlantic with the Empire Windrush passenger ship and their descendants. Some of the people who have a legal right to live in the UK have struggled to prove their immigration status and have been denied medical care, denied housing and deported or threatened with deportation.

A damning new report from the House of Commons’ influential Home Affairs Committee, released on Wednesday, said the scheme, set up in 2019, had “become a source of further trauma rather than redress, and others have been cut off from applying for the scheme altogether. . ”

By the end of September, only 20.1% of the estimated 15,000 people expected to be eligible for compensation had applied, and only 5.8% of the applicants had received a payment, the Cross-Policy Committee found. MPs also found that 23 eligible people had died before receiving compensation.

The committee’s report said the scheme was plagued by a “litany of errors” with an “excessive burden” on applicants to provide evidence of losses, lengthy applications and payment processing, inadequate staffing of the scheme and failure to provide exceptional payments to individuals in an emergency. need.

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The report found that instead of correcting past ill-treatment, the scheme had “reinforced the injustices” to which people had been subjected. It acknowledged reforms introduced in December last year to speed up payments, but said the changes had not gone far enough. The committee recommended further action and suggested that the scheme – currently under Interior Minister Priti Patel – be transferred to an independent organization to rebuild trust and strengthen applications.

“The treatment of the Windrush generation of successive governments was really shameful,” MPs said in the report. “No amount of compensation could ever repay the fear, humiliation, hurt and distress inflicted on individuals affected.”

The committee added: “The fact that the design and operation of this scheme contained the same bureaucratic insensitivities that led to the Windrush scandal in the first place is a condemnatory accusation against the Ministry of the Interior and suggests that the cultural change it promised in the wake of the scandal has yet not occurred. “

Committee chairman Yvette Cooper, a member of the Labor opposition party, said: “It’s been four years since the Windrush scandal surfaced and it’s really shocking how few people have received any compensation for the difficulties they’ve endured in the hands of Ministry of the Interior.

“A swift action is needed to get compensation for those who have been so severely wronged,” she added.

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Cooper continued that she found it “overwhelming, given the failures of the Windrush scandal, that the Home Office has also allowed some of the same problems to affect the Windrush compensation scheme.”

Alba Kapoor, a senior politician at The Runnymede Trust, responded to the report’s publication in a Twitter post from the racism think tank, asking: “How many more deaths will there be before the horrors of the Windrush scandal are dealt with in a competent, compassionate and supportive way? “

The organization said in a subsequent post that it supports the committee’s recommendation to hand over responsibility for the scheme to an independent body.

“The figures speak for themselves when they highlight the Home Office’s inability to deal with its own catastrophic failures,” it added.

Following the publication of the report, a State Department spokesman said in a statement to CNN: “The Secretary of the Interior and the Department remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that members of the Windrush generation each receive a penny of the compensation to which they are entitled.

“The Home Secretary reviewed the scheme in December to ensure more money is paid out faster – since then the amount of compensation has risen from less than £ 3m to over £ 31.6m and a further £ 5.6m has been offered. There is no ceiling. for the amount of compensation we will pay.

“We are pleased that 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 are confident that we moving the operation of the scheme out per the Ministry of the Interior would risk significantly delaying vital payments to those affected. “

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