The UK government on Wednesday (3) announced that it was setting aside £200 million to compensate historic immigrants from Commonwealth countries like India wrongly denied their citizenship rights in the UK.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that while there was no cap on the amount of compensation that could be paid out per claim, the total “baseline estimate” for the compensation scheme was set at £200 million.
“When I became Home Secretary I vowed to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation. We’ve been working tirelessly to fulfil that promise ever since and have helped more than 3,600 people secure the citizenship they were entitled to,” said Javid, who had taken over as home secretary at the peak of the crisis in April last year.
“But it’s right that we compensate those who faced extreme difficulties and hardship – and this scheme will go some way in doing that. The Windrush generation have given so much to this country and we will ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” he said.
The Windrush generation refers to citizens of former British colonies who arrived before 1973, when the rights of such Commonwealth citizens to live and work in Britain were substantially curtailed.
While a large proportion of those caught up in the Windrush scandal by being incorrectly detained or even deported were of Jamaican/Caribbean descent, Indians and other South Asian origin migrants were also among those affected.
In his last update to Parliament, Javid had revealed that at least 455 Indians were able to confirm their nationality as British under the Windrush scheme. A majority of them (367) had arrived in the UK before 1973, when the immigration rules changed, while the others had either arrived later or were a family member of the so-called “Windrush generation”.
In a report at the end of a Windrush review last month, the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was extremely critical of the UK Home Office’s handling of the crisis.
It concluded that while the majority of those embroiled in the crisis were of Caribbean origin, other Commonwealth nationalities like Indians caught up in a similar situation deserved more attention.
The new compensation scheme is aimed at providing payments to eligible individuals who did not have the right documentation to prove their status in the UK and suffered adverse effects on their life as a result.
These could range from a loss of employment or access to housing, education or NHS healthcare to emotional distress or a deterioration in mental and physical health.
The scheme is open to anyone from any nationality who has the right to live or work in the UK without any restrictions or is now a British Citizen, and arrived in the UK before December 31, 1988.
It is also open to anyone from a Commonwealth country who arrived and settled in the UK before 1973. Certain children and grandchildren of those arriving before 1973 and some close family members may also be eligible to apply.
According to the UK Home Office, people who were wrongfully detained or removed from the UK would be able to make a claim.