£200million to put right the ‘terrible mistake’of Windrush
THOUSANDS of victims of the Windrush scandal are to share in a compensation scheme worth at least £200million, it was announced yesterday.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in the Commons that the Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation had been a ‘terrible mistake’ as he revealed the details.
Up to 15,000 people are believed to be entitled to compensation after being wrongly deported, denied benefits or refused NHS treatment.
Mr Javid said there would be no limit to the amount which could be paid out, but added that he expects the ‘baseline figure’ to be £200million.
But victims’ representatives criticised the scheme’s lack of detail and said the money would not be enough to compensate for their hardship.
The ‘ Windrush generation’ were named after the ship which brought
‘It won’t make up for all the hardship’
the first migrants from the West Indies in 1948 to help rebuild post-war Britain. In an extraordinary scandal, which emerged last spring, children of Windrush migrants were found to have been wrongly labelled as illegal immigrants.
This was caused by the imposing of tougher immigration rules, which were introduced by the Home Office in 2014 and required individuals to show documentation before taking up work, renting properties or using the NHS.
As many Windrush migrants had never applied for passports or become naturalised British citizens, it was very difficult for them to prove they were in the UK legally.
Some were threatened with deportation back to the Caribbean, while others lost their homes, jobs and benefits – despite having paid taxes in Britain for decades.
Mr Javid promised the Commons yesterday that the compensation scheme would be ‘simple’, ‘accessible’ and ‘fair’.
He said: ‘The whole country was shocked by the unacceptable treatment experienced by some members of the Windrush generation.
‘People who have built their lives in this country, people who have done so much for this country, people who have every right to be in this country, they were told that they were not welcome.’
He added: ‘It was a terrible mistake and it should never have happened.
‘And that it did is a matter of profound regret to myself, to my department [and] to the Government.
‘That’s why just under a year ago one of my first acts as Home Secretary was to stand at this despatch box and to say sorry on behalf of successive governments.
‘I didn’t just say sorry to members of the Windrush generation, I also vowed to right the wrongs that had been done to them, and I sincerely hope that this compensation scheme being unveiled today goes some way into doing that.’ The scheme will provide payments to individuals who did not have the right documentation to prove their status in the UK and suffered ‘ adverse effects’ on their life as a consequence.
But Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants – an independent charity – said that Mr Javid’s announcement was ‘short on detail’.
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.’
He added: ‘Today’s announcement... will fail to reassure Windrush victims that they will be adequately financially compensated for the losses and hardship inflicted on them by this Government. We still don’t know what individual payouts will look like.
‘The Home Secretary’s proposed baseline of £200million will just not be enough to make up for all the hardship caused.’