Windrush victim: 'I had to pull my teeth out because I couldn't get NHS treatment'

5 May 2021, 13:19 | Updated: 6 May 2021, 12:35

Anthony Williams full interview

By Fiona Jones

This ex-serviceman Anthony Williams told James O'Brien the devastating effect the Windrush scandal has had on his life, leaving him penniless and unable to receive essential NHS treatment.

Anthony arrived in England from Jamaica in 1971 and when he left school served in the military for 13 years. He worked and lived all over the UK and when he returned to Birmingham in 2013 he "came across a hostile environment", 43 years after arriving.

"I went to work one morning, I'd just started a new job, got called into HR. They told me they'd done a check on me and I wasn't eligible to work in the UK," he told James.

He tried to sign on to Universal Credit yet the Department for Work and Pensions initially refused, leaving him in a "devastating" position.

He told James that he thought this had only happened to him until five years later when the scandal broke in the newspapers in 2018; through Twitter he also discovered many other people suffering with the same issue.

'The Windrush compensation scheme has an uncomfortable echo of original problems'

James said, "You were suddenly refused access to work, NHS services and to welfare. How did you live?"

Anthony said he survived on his military pension and was eventually given access to benefits - yet he was not permitted to have a job so had to stay on them for three and a half years.

Tragically, as he could not get medical treatment, he also resorted to pulling out his own teeth to remedy a recurring and debilitating mouth infection.

"I had to do something about it," he said, "I had to live from day to day."

The Home Office's Windrush compensation scheme is "worse than being stateless", says Anthony, saying it is neither easy to use nor fair.

He told James he "laughed" when he was offered £18,500.

The Home Office stated: "The new level three payment is the equivalent of levels three and four of the old impact on life scale. This was set out when the changes were announced and this has been explained to individuals when they receive their revised offer."

In a statement on Anthony's specific case, the Home Office said: "As with all claims we worked with Mr Williams to understand all aspect of his claim to ensure the maximum amount of compensation could be awarded to him.

"We wrote to the applicants impacted by the changes explaining how their case would be affected so that they knew they would not lose out."

Watch the full interview above.

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