31 July 2020

Payouts made to fewer than 8% of Windrush compensation claimants

31 July 2020

Fewer than 8% of Windrush victims claiming compensation have received payouts, according to official figures.

Home Office data published on Friday also revealed that 60 claims have been made for people who have already died.

A total of 1,392 claims were made to the scheme by the end of June and £755,110.88 has been paid out to 110 people, just 7.9%, according to the department’s figures.

The number of claims received has fallen each quarter since the scheme launched in April last year.

According to the figures, 57 claimants have appealed over the decision made, while 35 eligible applicants were told they were not entitled to any money because their claims did not demonstrate that they had been adversely affected by the scandal.

Windrush generation immigration controversy (PA Archive)

Campaigner Patrick Vernon, who launched a petition calling for improvements to the scheme, told the PA news agency that the figures are “still very disappointing” and the burden of proof for claims is so high that victims of the scandal are “being treated like benefit scroungers”.

The scheme should be simpler and handled by an independent body, he added.

The fund has an estimated budget of at least £200 million.

According to a Home Office spokeswoman, £1.5 million had been offered in compensation through the scheme as of July 15.

MPs previously warned there is a risk of people dying before they receive compensation owed unless the Government steps up its efforts.

It is thought that at least two people have died after applying for compensation while other claims were made posthumously on their behalf.

Earlier this month Home Secretary Priti Patel said the scheme was “complicated” and she wanted to see compensation “sped up”.

Speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, she described the scandal as a “stain” on the department, adding: “I think it is absolutely unacceptable that people have died.”

We are continuing to process individual claims as quickly as possible, but cases deserve to be processed individually, with the care and sensitivity they deserve, so that the maximum payment can be made to every single person

Windrush campaigner Paulette Wilson died earlier this month, aged 64, just weeks after delivering a petition to Downing Street calling for action to address the failings that led to the scandal and demanding swift compensation payments for victims.

Friends said she died “a broken woman” and had been struggling to fill out complex claim forms.

Mr Vernon said: “It’s outrageous we have families claiming after they have lost their loved ones. That’s a further blow and a further insult.”

He also accused the Government of failing to spread word of the scheme among people now living in Africa or the Caribbean who may have been victims of the scandal.

Most of the claims recorded to the end of June, where country of residence is documented, came from people living in the UK (1,100), with 43 from the Caribbean and just three from Africa, the figures show.

In 2018, ministers faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation – named after a ship that brought migrants to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948.

Commonwealth citizens who arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain.

But some were later challenged over their immigration status despite living in the UK legally for decades.

Windrush scandal (PA Wire)

An independent review published earlier this year found that the Windrush scandal was “foreseeable and avoidable” and victims were let down by “systemic operational failings” at the Home Office.

Author Wendy Williams said the Government department demonstrated “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness” towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation.

Ms Patel later said Ms Williams was “just a tiny fraction away from even calling the Home Office institutionally racist”.

She has since promised a full review of the hostile environment policy – measures introduced in 2012 by then home secretary Theresa May to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible for people who do not have leave to remain in the hope they will depart the country on their own accord.

So far 12,030 people have been granted some form of documentation.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are continuing to process individual claims as quickly as possible, but cases deserve to be processed individually, with the care and sensitivity they deserve, so that the maximum payment can be made to every single person.”

The scheme was initially expected to be open for two years but the deadline for applications has been extended until at least April 2023.

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