Javid launches compensation scheme to ‘right the wrongs’ of Windrush scandal

Thousands of Windrush scandal victims will share in a £200 million compensation scheme launched on Wednesday by the Government.

The two-year initiative aims to “right the wrongs” suffered by people who faced difficulties demonstrating their immigration status.

Up to 15,000 eligible claims are expected to be lodged, according to the Home Office’s “central planning assumption”.

Confirming there will be no cap on the total amount awarded, Home Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs his department’s “baseline estimate” was approximately £200 million.

An official impact assessment said the final figure could range between £120 million and £310 million.

Staffing costs are expected to be between £4 million and £6 million a year.

Opening the scheme, Mr Javid (pictured) described the treatment of some members of the Windrush generation as “a terrible mistake”.

He said: “We’ve been working tirelessly to fulfil that promise ever since and have helped more than 3,600 people secure the citizenship they were entitled to.

“But it’s right that we compensate those who faced extreme difficulties and hardship, and this scheme will go some way in doing that.

“The Windrush generation have given so much to this country and we will ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, claimed the announcement was “short on detail” and will “fail to reassure Windrush victims that they will be adequately financially compensated for the losses and hardship inflicted on them”.

He said: “Thousands of members of the Windrush generation suffered for years and then had to wait a further year to hear how they might be compensated.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “This compensation scheme has fallen woefully short of its expectation and of what is fair.

“The Government has been disgracefully slow to do the right thing by the Windrush generation.”

Payments will be available to those who did not have the right documentation to prove their status in the UK and suffered “adverse effects” on their life as a result.

These could include a loss of employment or access to housing, education or NHS healthcare, as well as emotional distress or a deterioration in mental and physical health.

People who were wrongfully detained or removed from the UK can seek compensation under the scheme.

It is open to applicants of any nationality who have the right to live or work in the UK without any restrictions, or who are now British citizens, and arrived in the country before the end of 1988, as well as people from a Commonwealth country who arrived and settled in the UK before 1973.

Certain children and grandchildren of pre-1973 arrivals may also be eligible.

The Government is retaining discretion to withhold or reduce an award if a claimant has a record of serious criminality.

Claims can be made by the estates of people who were affected by the scandal and have since died, and close family members in relation to the impact on their life as a result of difficulties experienced by the main applicant.

Martin Forde QC, who advised the Home Office on the design of the compensation scheme, said: “I believe it is accessible and most importantly, fairly compensates those who have suffered.

“The scheme has been built on feedback from affected communities, and their personal stories have been crucial in its design.”

Ministers faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation – named after a ship that brought people to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948.

Commonwealth citizens who arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain but many were not issued with any documents confirming their status.

A public outcry erupted after it emerged long-term UK residents were denied access to services, held in detention or removed despite living legally in the country for decades.

Last year the Government formally apologised in relation to 18 cases where the Home Office is considered most likely to have acted wrongfully.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Joe Giddens / PA Wire.