Great Britain

Windrush victims 'waiting too long' for compensation from Home Office

Windrush victims are having to wait too long for their compensation to come through in a "slow and onerous" Home Office process, campaigners have claimed. 

The Black Cultural Archives (BCA) group and victims' lawyers said they have not yet spoken to anyone caught up in the Windrush scandal who have received a final payout. With many waiting months for a response. ​

Organisations and lawyers representing around 100 victims have also criticised the way claims need to be submitted, saying the complicated process causes further "trauma".

Download the new Indpendent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The Home Office said it was "wrong to claim that no compensation payments have been made", but refused to confirm how many had been finalised, saying more information would be provided in due course.

Arike Oke, BCA's managing director, said although the group supports the scheme, "it is yet to provide payments for people who have suffered, and are suffering, as a result of government errors and policy".

"The scheme itself is difficult to access and causes additional trauma to those already made to suffer by asking them to navigate further unduly onerous and unnecessary amounts of evidence to be granted the compensation they are due."

Jamie Beagent, partner and head of human rights at legal firm Leigh Day, who is representing around 30 victims, said "absolutely nothing" had been offered in formal payouts to his clients so far and he was not aware of anyone else who had been paid.

"I think the scheme has been handled very, very badly," he said. "What little trust and confidence there was in the scheme has quickly dissipated, given the delay and complexity of it."

He said reports of victim Glenda Caesar's £22,000 offer, which she said she rejected as "crumbs" after being out of work for a decade, was the "first indication" of how the Home Office was approaching the scheme and this made him "worried".

Campaigner Patrick Vernon said he did not know of anyone who had been paid and called the compensation scheme "narrow and restrictive".

BCA, the largest UK source of black British history and culture, is hosting a public meeting next month and a series of free legal surgeries in a bid to help those awaiting compensation.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are determined to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation."

They said the scheme was "carefully designed with independent oversight so that it is as easy to use as possible" and "aims to provide a decision to applicants as soon as possible but it is right that we take the time to ensure these are dealt with properly."

Victims who are unhappy with the offer made can request a review and an appeal after that. 

Independent advice and assistance is available for those completing claims, the department said.

Up to 15,000 eligible claims are expected to be lodged for the estimated £200 million fund under the two-year initiative, from people facing difficulties demonstrating their immigration status.

The Windrush scandal revealed how British citizens from the Windrush generation -  coming to the UK particularly from the Caribbean but also Commonwealth countries across the globe - had been deported, detained and denied services over of a lack of documentation. 

Press Association