Home Office failing to meet its own Windrush compensation payout targets
The Home Office has been accused of failing Windrush victims “twice” as its top civil servant admitted the department is yet to meet its own target on compensation payouts.
Permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft was questioned by MPs about the progress being made with the Windrush compensation scheme on Wednesday.
He confirmed the Home Office had failed to met an internal target to conclude 90% of cases – which had been submitted before the end of last year – by August 31. But he insisted work on the scheme was moving “in the right direction”.
Asked if the target had been met, Mr Rycroft said: “It hasn’t actually, with regret we have not met the 90% target which was an internal target. We got to 66%.”
Commons Home Affairs Committee chairman Yvette Cooper described this as a “big gap”, to which he agreed and said it was not what the department had “aspired to”.
“We haven’t got there but we are moving in the right direction. We have put further resource into this very important scheme, we have simplified the scheme, and we are continuing to work with every applicant to get them either a preliminary payment or, indeed, eventually a full and final payment as soon as we can”, he said.
Ms Cooper highlighted figures showing the number of claims receiving payments had actually decreased month-on-month between April and July.
While the total numbers have reduced, staff are dealing with more “complex” cases, Mr Rycroft said.
“Do you accept this is still failing the Windrush generation”, Ms Cooper asked, to which Mr Rycroft replied: “I accept it is not as fast as we would like. I accept it is still more complex than ideal but lives are complicated and many parts of people’s lives have been touched by this scandal.”
Ms Cooper said 23 people, who died since submitting their claim, have been “wronged twice”.
Mr Rycroft responded: “I totally agree and we are determined to do as good a job as we can for the whole of that generation”, adding that the estates of the deceased will receive what was intended for them.
The latest figures show the Home Office had paid nearly £30.6 million to 837 people by the end of August, out of a total 2,891 claims submitted so far.
Some 187 claims have been made for people who have already died, but only six have currently resulted in payments.
Appeals have been made against decisions in more than 300 cases, while 374 eligible applicants were told they were not entitled to any money because their claims did not demonstrate they had been adversely affected by the scandal.
There have been 138 claims rejected on eligibility grounds.
Victims were promised bigger, quicker payouts following complaints of difficulties in claiming compensation as part of an overhaul of the scheme in December.
The committee heard Wendy Williams is returning to the Home Office at the end of the month to assess what progress has been made since she made some 30 recommendations in her Windrush Lessons Learned Review published last year. She is expected to report back with her findings in March 2022.
Mr Rycroft said: “What I will be saying is that we are proud of the progress we have made, already we feel we have totally completed 11 recommendations and are on track to complete a further four by end of the year.”
While work has started on the other half of the recommendations, they are more long-term and complex so require ongoing work, he added.
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