£200mil­lion to put right the ‘ter­ri­ble mis­take’of Win­drush

Daily Mail - - Brexit In Crisis - By So­phie Bor­land

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.’

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