'Truly shocking': Just one in 20 Windrush scandal victims have been given any money

24 November 2021, 00:03 | Updated: 24 November 2021, 00:08

Priti Patel's Home Office should be stripped of the Windrush compensation scheme
Priti Patel's Home Office should be stripped of the Windrush compensation scheme. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Only one in 20 people eligible for compensation under the Windrush scheme have received any payment, according to striking new MPs' research.

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Politicians warned the way Priti Patel's Home Office was handling claims is "deeply troubling" because it has "repeated the same mistakes which led to the Windrush scandal in the first place".

A total of 23 eligible recipients died without ever seeing a single penny.

The scheme was set up for those in the Windrush generation that were wrongly denied lawful immigration status due to Home Office policies.

The department said Ms Patel was "steadfast" in wanting every penny to get to claimants.

Claimants have faced a "daunting application process", "unreasonable requests for evidence" and been "left in limbo in the midst of inordinate delays", the cross-party Commons Home Affairs Committee has reported.

By the end of September, MPs on the committee found just 5.8% of people had been given money, while merely 20.1% of the 15,000 eligible claimants had applied for compensation.

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The committee said in its report: "The treatment of the Windrush generation by successive governments and the Home Office was truly shameful.

"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 added: "Too often, injustice has been compounded rather than compensated

"This is unacceptable and must not continue."

Responsibility for the Windrush scandal compensation scheme should be stripped away from the Home Office, the MPs said.

The scheme contains the same "bureaucratic insensitivities" which caused the affair in the first place, the politicians added.

They welcomed reforms brought in during December 2020 to improve the scheme but said not enough had been done.

Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, 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 added that 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".

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."