17 December 2020

Payouts made to 15% of Windrush victims claiming compensation

17 December 2020

Around 15% of Windrush victims claiming compensation have received payouts, official figures suggest.

Some 1,680 claims had been made by the end of November, and a total of £2,440,287.58 in payments had been made to 260 people, according to Home Office data.

The figures also show 77 claims have been made through the scheme for people who have already died, but only three have resulted in payments so far.

Appeals have been made against decisions in more than 160 claims, while 132 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 also been 91 claims rejected on eligibility grounds.

The latest figures come after victims of the Windrush scandal were promised bigger, quicker payouts following complaints of difficulties in claiming compensation.

Home Secretary Priti Patel pledged a major overhaul of the system after saying she had listened to concerns.

Minimum payments will rise from £250 to £10,000 while the maximum will increase from £10,000 to £100,000.

It is my mission to correct the wrongs of the past and I will continue to work with the Windrush working group to do exactly that

Higher awards will be available for those in exceptional circumstances.

The changes will apply retrospectively and will make a “real difference” to people’s lives, Ms Patel said in the Commons, adding: “I’ve always promised to listen and act to ensure the victims of Windrush have received the maximum compensation they deserve, and it is my mission to correct the wrongs of the past and I will continue to work with the Windrush working group to do exactly that.”

The scandal erupted in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in Britain.

Many lost homes and jobs and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

Last week a Government adviser told MPs that victims he had spoken to were finding applying for compensation a “real battle” and “onerous”.

Speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Martin Forde QC also said deportation flights were “seriously undermining” the Home Office’s work on the compensation scheme.

He said victims of the scandal “don’t trust the Home Office at all” and are “genuinely scared”, which could be deterring people from applying for compensation.

The compensation lawyer, who was appointed as the department’s independent adviser as it brought in the Windrush claims scheme, told MPs there were problems with the Home Office’s “image and its portrayal”.

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