Home Office should be stripped of responsibility for compensating Windrush victims, MPs say

MPs said it was ‘deeply troubling’ that the Home Office’s handling of claims ‘has repeated the same mistakes which led to the scandal in the first place’

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 24 November 2021 02:12
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<p>Priti Patel: the home office is accused of repeating mistakes </p>

Priti Patel: the home office is accused of repeating mistakes

The Home Office should be stripped of responsibility for compensating victims of the Windrush scandal, MPs on an influential parliamentary committee have said.

A report by the Home Affairs Select Committee said Priti Patel's department had presided over a “litany of flaws” and that an independent organisation should take over.

They found that, as of the end of September, only 20.1 per cent of the initially estimated 15,000 eligible claimants had applied for compensation, and just 5.8 per cent had received any payment.

Twenty-three people are also thought to have died without receiving compensation from the scheme.

The MPs said the design of the compensation scheme contained the same “bureaucratic insensitivities” that led to the Windrush scandal in the first place.

And they said the latest evidence of its failures was a “damning indictment of the Home Office”.

“The treatment of the Windrush generation by successive governments and the Home Office was truly shameful,” the committee said.

“No amount of compensation could ever repay the fear, the humiliation and the hurt that was caused both to individuals and to communities affected.”

In a report released on Tuesday, the committee said it was “deeply troubling” that the Home Office's handling of claims “has repeated the same mistakes which led to the Windrush scandal in the first place”.

Among problems are claimants facing a “daunting application process”, “unreasonable requests for evidence” and others being “left in limbo in the midst of inordinate delays”.

“Too often, injustice has been compounded rather than compensated,” the MPs said. “This is unacceptable and must not continue.”

MPs said reforms introduced in December 2020 to improve the system had not gone far enough.

The committee’s Labour MP chair Yvette Cooper, said: “It has been four years since the Windrush scandal emerged and it is truly shocking how few people have received any compensation for the hardship they endured at the hands of the Home Office.

“It is particularly distressing that 23 individuals have died without receiving any compensation. Urgent action is needed to get compensation to those who have been so badly wronged.”

A Home Office spokesperson, said: “The home secretary and the department remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that members of the Windrush generation receive every penny of compensation that they are entitled to.

“The home secretary overhauled the scheme in December to ensure more money is paid more quickly – since then the amount of compensation paid has risen from less than £3m to over £31.6m, with a further £5.6m having been offered. There is no cap on the amount of compensation we will pay out.

“We are pleased this report welcomes the changes made to the scheme in December and we continue to make improvements, such as simplifying the application process, hiring more caseworkers and removing the end date.

“We firmly believe that moving the operation of the scheme out of the Home Office would risk significantly delaying vital payments to those affected.”

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