Thank you for contacting me about the Windrush generation.
Ministers have made firm commitments to do everything possible to put right what is considered to be wrong in the way that people have been treated.
As you will be aware, the Home Secretary received the Windrush Lessons Learned Review from independent adviser Wendy Williams and published the report at the earliest opportunity. The report is clear: lessons must be learned at all levels and by all political parties.
The Independent Advisor suggests that the Home Secretary gives careful consideration to the findings outlined in the report. I agree entirely that a detailed formal response must not be rushed so as to allow for the most difficult questions to be asked and answered. The Home Secretary has said that she will be accepting the recommendations made in full and will provide an update on implementing the recommendations before the summer recess.
On compensation, the Home Secretary has been clear that the Home Office is processing claims as quickly as possible. However, there are a variety of factors that can alter the time taken, including the complexity of the case. Where possible, interim payments will be made on the more straightforward parts of claims, such as immigration fees.
On the total value of payments so far, it is clear that the trajectory of payments is increasing. As you may be aware, £362,997 was paid in the first 12 months of the scheme, of which £300,799 was paid in the most recent three months of that period. Over £1 million has been offered in claims so far.
In a further development, Home Secretary Priti Patel launched the Windrush Cross-Government Working Group on 22nd June 2020.
The group, co-chaired by the Home Secretary and Bishop Derek Webley, brings together stakeholders and community leaders with senior representatives from a number of government departments.
The purpose of the group is to:
- Provide strategic input into the Home Office’s response to the Wendy Williams Lessons Learned Review
- Support the design and delivery of practical solutions to address the wider challenges that disproportionately affect people from Black and wider BAME backgrounds - this will include programmes on education, work and health
- Advise on the design and delivery of the Windrush Schemes Community Fund
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
"This group is crucial to delivering on our promise to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation and it is right that we advance these issues in a constructive, sensitive and responsible way."
"We know that the best way to make sure we reach all those affected is by listening to them and hearing their voices, including how best to address the wider challenges that disproportionately affect those from BAME backgrounds."
"From issues affecting education, work and health, this group will support government to deliver practical solutions as well as advising on the design of the Windrush Community Fund scheme and response to the Wendy Williams review."
"What we need most now is action and I am excited to work in partnership with this group who themselves hold valuable experience within the community and are driven to bring the ultimate change that we all want to achieve, which is making a difference to people’s lives."
Bishop Derek Webley, co-chair of the Windrush Cross-Government Working Group said:
"It’s an honour to be able to serve members of the Windrush generation who have served this country with dignity and pride, and helped to build this country over many years."
"This Working Group recognises that the work we’re doing can’t be done without the voices of the community, and we will work with them and the government in finding a way forward that would meet the satisfaction of the Windrush community."
Group members include stakeholders and community leaders representing the affected communities, including Bishop Joe Aldred from Churches Together in England; Paulette Simpson, Executive Director of the Voice; Blondel Cluff, Chief Executive of the West India Committee and Kunle Olulode, Director of Voice4Change England. All members bring a balance of experience in community engagement and specific sector expertise.
Members also will include representation at a senior level from a number of government departments, including No10, the Home Office, the Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Home Office, as requested by Wendy Williams, is carefully considering the Lessons Learned Review. The Home Secretary has agreed to respond in full by the end of September and has also committed to provide an update to Parliament before summer recess.
The group will play an important role in assisting with the Home Office’s response by providing insight and guidance, as well as help to ensure that the lessons from the Windrush review are shared across government.
As announced by the Home Secretary in March, the Home Office will shortly launch a separate £500k Windrush Scheme Community Fund for grassroots organisations, to help improve uptake and awareness of the schemes supporting those who were directly affected. This includes the Windrush Scheme, which has so far provided over 12,000 people with documentation confirming their status. One of the first tasks for the group will be to work with stakeholders to co-design and deliver this Fund.
To ensure that all those affected are reached, the Home Office is also launching a £750k targeted advertising campaign, using a range of channels, such as adverts and social media, to make sure those most affected around the UK are aware of the support available to them and know how to apply. The Government will work closely with stakeholders to ensure our campaign encourages as many people as possible to apply.
Grassroots activity, including recruiting community ambassadors nationally and in priority areas to encourage and support applications among their networks, is also being undertaken. More details on this activity will be announced in due course.
The group will complement the Race Equality Commission, which is being set up by Number 10 and will sit separately to this group.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Craig Whittaker MP