Thank you for contacting me about the Windrush generation.
I welcome the firm commitment by Ministers to do everything possible to right proven wrongs and ensure this can never happen again.
I have included below a Government factsheet which explains the Windrush Compensation Scheme in more detail.
Documentation - If an individual is settled in the UK but does not have a document to prove it, they may be eligible to apply to the 'Windrush Scheme'. This means they may be able to apply for a document to prove they can live and work in the UK. This is the case if one of the following is true - they came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973, their parents came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973 or they came to the UK from any country before 31 December 1988 and are now settled here. Individuals may also be entitled to apply for citizenship for free if they are a Commonwealth citizen who settled in the UK before 1 January 1973, or are the child of someone who did.
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. I agree that this is a national scandal and must be treated as such.
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 to allow for the most difficult questions to be asked and answered. I welcome that the Home Secretary has said that she will be accepting the recommendations made in full.
Compensation Payments - The Home Secretary has reassured me that the Home Office is processing claims as quickly as possible. It is extremely welcome that following feedback the Home Office has made a number of improvements to the scheme. This includes raising the minimum award from £250 to £10,000 for anyone who can show an impact on their life under the terms of the scheme. In addition, raising the maximum award an individual can receive for an impact on their life from £10,000 to £100,000 and options for higher awards in exceptional circumstances. I was reassured to hear that all changes will be applied retrospectively.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Craig Whittaker MP
Government Factsheet - May 2021
Windrush Compensation Scheme
The Windrush Compensation Scheme was launched on 3 April 2019 and will be open for claims until at least 2 April 2023.
You may be able to claim compensation if you suffered losses because you could not show that you had a right to live in the UK.
Since April 2019 the Scheme has offered or paid almost £30 million in compensation to members of the Windrush generation.
On 27 May the Home Office published the latest set of data on the Scheme which covers the period to the end of April 2021.
During the month of April, the Home Office paid out over £6.2 million in compensation.
To the end of June:
- More than £24.4 million in compensation has been paid across 732 claims.
- In addition, over £8 million has been offered in compensation, awaiting acceptance or pending review.
- More than £29.5 million has been paid or offered in compensation awards.
On 14 December 2020 the Home Office announced an overhaul of the Scheme to ensure that people receive significantly more money, much more quickly.
We increased the minimum award under the Impact on Life category to £10,000. This is forty times the previous minimum award under this category and will be paid as a new early preliminary payment as soon as someone applying on their own behalf or on behalf of a deceased relative can show any impact on their life under the terms of the Scheme. They do not need to wait for their whole application to be assessed.
We also increased the value of awards for Impact on Life at every level so everyone will be paid more in this category, with the maximum award increasing from £10,000 to £100,000 (with options for even higher awards in exceptional circumstances).
Within six weeks of the changes being announced, the Home Office had offered more in compensation than in the first 19 months of the Scheme rising £6.17 million to more than £12 million at the end of January 2021.
Total payments have also risen rapidly since the changes were announced. In the first four months of 2021, the Home Office paid more than six times the total amount previously distributed throughout the lifetime of the scheme, which began in April 2019.
Prior to the overhaul, the Scheme offered an average of £294,000 per month. Since the changes made in December, the Scheme has offered an average of £5.8 million per month.
The Scheme was designed with the independent oversight of Martin Forde QC, in close consultation with those who had been affected, to be as comprehensive and easy to use as possible. As a result, people should not require legal assistance to make a claim.
For those who do need support, the Home Office has funded an organisation to provide free, independent claimant assistance to individuals for the duration of the Scheme. We Are Digital started providing this service from the first quarter of 2021.
Compensation payments are made as quickly as possible, but each person’s claim is deeply personal and deserves to be processed with the utmost care and sensitivity so that the maximum payment can be made to them.
Individuals must accept their offer of compensation before it can be paid, or, if they are dissatisfied, they can ask for a review.
This is first through an internal review and, if someone remains dissatisfied, through an independent review by the Adjudicator’s Office.
Urgent and exceptional cases
In December 2018, the Home Office established an Urgent and Exceptional Payments process for those members of the Windrush generation who had an urgent and exceptional need in advance of the Windrush Compensation Scheme.
The process remains open for those who need it. The total value of the payments approved to date is £46,795.08.
But this is just one way we help those in urgent need. There is also a dedicated Vulnerable Persons Team (VPT) to provide help and advice for more vulnerable people. This service also helps people:
- with support and advice on accessing mainstream benefits
- get support and advice on housing
To the end of March, the VPT has provided support to 1,438 individuals including:
- 364 referrals to Department for Work and Pensions in relation to fresh claims and reinstatement of benefits
- 265 individuals given advice and support on issues relating to housing
Supporting people to settle their status in the UK and outreach
On 16 April 2018, the Home Office established the Windrush Taskforce, now known as the Help Team, to ensure members of the Windrush generation could get the documentation they need to prove their right to be in the UK.
Over 13,300 documents have been provided to more than 12,500 individuals confirming their status or British citizenship.
To help people apply for documentation, the Taskforce has attended over 80 surgeries in person at places of worship, care homes and community centres, across the UK since 2018.
Windrush Cross-Government Working Group
On 22 June 2020, the Home Secretary launched the Windrush Cross-Government Working Group.
The Working Group, co-chaired by the Home Secretary and Bishop Derek Webley MBE DL, brings together community organisations with government representatives to support the delivery of practical solutions to address challenges affecting the Windrush generation and their families.
Grassroots, face-to-face engagement has been key to delivering our messages to the people we know we need to reach.
Since 2018, we have held approximately 180 engagement and outreach events across the country (held in line with Covid-19 guidance during the pandemic). These events include approximately 103 one-to-one surgeries to help people apply for documentation to the Windrush Scheme and over 60 public community engagement events to raise awareness of the Windrush Schemes.
These events were moved online during the coronavirus pandemic so that people can continue to access support and advice on the Windrush Schemes. To date, we have held 44 online events. When Governments guidelines allow, we will look to restart face-to-face community-based events.
Promotion of the Schemes and supporting communities
The Windrush Community Fund opened for applications on 14 December. The Community Fund supports community and grassroots organisations to run outreach and promotional activity to raise awareness of the Windrush Scheme and Windrush Compensation Scheme.
In phase one, 14 charities, community and/or grassroot organisations across the UK have been awarded grants between £2,500 to £25,000 to ensure affected Windrush communities are aware of the support and compensation available, following a competitive bidding round.
Phase two is now open for bids. For more information and how to apply, go to: www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-windrush-community-fund
To reach priority audiences throughout the UK, the Home Office ran a £750,000 advertising campaign late last year. The campaign used a range of channels including print, local radio, web and social media to make more people aware of the support available to them and how to apply.
Grassroots activity has included partnerships with specialist media outlets and the recruitment of campaign ambassadors. The ambassadors have worked in communities throughout the UK to encourage and support applications amongst their networks, via activities such as media interviews, hosting information events, distributing materials through food banks, faith organisations and coordinating social media work.
The Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to ensure as many people as possible apply.
On 21 April the Home Office announced Professor Martin Levermore MBE DL as the new Independent Person to advise on the Windrush Compensation Scheme, following a competitive recruitment round.
Professor Levermore will provide crucial independent oversight and reassurance on the Windrush Compensation Scheme’s operation, policy and effectiveness.
Learning lessons and moving forward - the Windrush Lessons Learned Review
In 2018, the previous Home Secretary commissioned a lessons learned review into the events leading up to Windrush. Independent oversight was provided by Wendy Williams.
After receiving the final report, the Home Secretary published the report the next day on 19 March 2020.
On behalf of successive governments, the Home Secretary apologised to the Windrush generation for the way they were treated.
On 21 July 2020, the Home Secretary set out the action the Home Office is taking in response to the Wendy Williams Windrush Lessons Learned Review.
This includes comprehensive training for everyone working in the Home Office to ensure they understand and appreciate the history of migration and race in this country. Every existing and new member of staff working for the Home Office will be required to undertake this training.
Greater emphasis will be placed on taking a more compassionate approach to individual applications and decision makers will be empowered to use their own discretion and pragmatism.
The Home Secretary published a comprehensive improvement plan in response to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review on 30 September, which shows how the Home Office is delivering on the recommendations and working to be more diverse and worthy of the trust of the whole communities it serves.