Action for Race Equality is concerned to hear of the Home Office’s plans to scale back its Windrush Compensation scheme for the thousands of people impacted by the Windrush Scandal. The Scheme was set up to compensate for the hardship suffered by individuals impacted by the “hostile environment” immigration policy implemented in 2012.
The number of payments to victims is to be reduced, Home Office Minister Lord Simon Murray confirmed because of low application numbers.
This comes amidst recent government announcements that indicate a rollback on previous pledges and commitments, originally meant to help heal the harms from the Windrush Scandal.
ARE, through our three-year Windrush Justice Programme, has heard clearly from groups and campaigners working on the frontline of Windrush advocacy across the UK, that there are countless people waiting to access the compensation scheme and receive reparations for the damages to their lives since the news broke of the Scandal in 2018 in the UK and abroad.
The Home Office is aware that some victims remain very reluctant to come forward because of their hardline approach to immigration. It takes a long time to establish trust and confidence amongst people that faced such egregious treatment from the department.
ARE’s Chief Executive Jeremy Crook said.
‘”ARE strongly urges Lord Murray, not to close the compensation door on the victims of the Windrush scandal. ARE has been funded to find community-based advocacy organisations across the UK and support them to provide practical help to victims so they can get the justice, citizenship, and compensation they deserve.
“We have £1.3m to fund these advocacy support groups. In the past 12 months we have funded 12 groups and will shortly fund another eight, taking the total to 20. And through our work so far, we know there are large parts of the UK where potential victims have no access to advocacy support such Bristol, Cardiff, and Leeds.
“We acknowledge the Home Office has rightly supported community groups to raise awareness of the Windrush schemes. But in light of the deep distrust victims have of the department, it is extremely premature to close the scheme now. We want the Home Office to reconsider its decision, and leave the scheme in place until the next general election. This will allow charities such as ours to continue identifying where there are geographical gaps in support for victims and provide funding for advocacy support.”
‘I am completely unsurprised by Nadine White’s report in the Independent, on the plans to scale back the Windrush Scheme. It has long since been my belief that from the launch of the scheme, the approach and attitude chosen by the Home Office is totally wrong.
Diligently searching for ways to narrow the scope of the scheme has always been their default mindset. Under-compensating claimants, undermining, and discrediting lawyers and advocates who have put in back-breaking work to help the Windrush Generation and descendants, is calculated.”Windrush survivor and advocate, Roland Houslin
Windrush Justice Programme advisor and leading Windrush campaigner, Patrick Vernon OBE said.
“Since the beginning of 2023 there have been growing signs of the government starting to take a step back in righting the wrongs of the Windrush Scandal, from dropping three recommendations from the Lessons Learned Review, temporary withdrawing the Windrush Scheme awareness grants, and dismantling the transformation team at the Home Office.
“The Home Office have perpetuated a narrative that Windrush claimants are not coming forward despite their best efforts, whilst simultaneously using the media to discredit and undermine respected immigration lawyers and campaigners who challenge them. The end game was always to close the scheme whilst gaslighting Windrush victims.
“Many groups have been calling for the compensation scheme to be removed from the Home Office. We need to escalate efforts to have an independent agency in charge of Windrush justice and demand an independent inquiry in how the Home Office has treated Windrush Generation since April 2018. The ask is clear: the fair and true compensation for one of the biggest human rights abuses since Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury on the 22nd June 1948.”
Action for Race Equality will continue to work with Windrush organisations and advocates across England and Wales to provide funding which will increase the capacity within community organisations to help people regulate their immigration status and access the compensation scheme.
We will be expanding the number of groups funded to carry out Windrush advocacy later this month, thanks to the generous funding of, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, City Bridge Foundation (formerly City Bridge Trust), AB Charitable Trust, Network for Social Change, Disrupt Foundation and the Mayor of London
In the latest Home Office statistics release, £1m more was paid out in claims by the Windrush Compensation scheme in June than any other month. ARE believes there is still a growing need for the scheme.
In May, we held a parliamentary event on “The Windrush Scandal: Five years on”, when Lord Simon Murray, amongst other parliamentarians and policy makers, heard from Windrush advocacy groups and those directly impacted by the Scandal who painted a picture of the legal, emotional, financial and social impact of the Windrush Scandal.