• Sunday, July 03, 2022

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UK overhauls Windrush compensation scheme; minimum payment increases to £10,000

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators hold placards during a protest in support of the Windrush generation in Windrush Square, Brixton on April 20, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

BRITAIN has announced an overhaul of the compensation scheme for victims of its clampdown on the ‘Windrush’ generation of immigrants, with increased and faster pay-outs.

The Home Office will start to issue some offers of preliminary payments this week and will begin making payments under the new rules from 1 January 2021. 

In 2017, the Windrush scandal caused uproar after it emerged a generation of Britons of Caribbean origin who moved to the UK legally between 1948 and the early 1970s had been wrongly detained or deported as illegal immigrants.

Under the changes, the minimum payment for victims will be raised from £250 to £10,000 ($335 to $13,400, €276 to €11,000), while the maximum payment will rise from £10,000 to £100,000.

The plans will also include “options for higher awards in exceptional circumstances”.

“I am announcing significant changes to the Windrush Compensation Scheme so that those affected will now receive significantly more money, much more quickly,” said home secretary Priti Patel.

 “I have always said that I will listen and act to help those who suffered terrible injustices and today’s changes are an important step in rebuilding trust and moving forward together.”

The Home Office has also opened the £500,000 Windrush community fund for bids. Community and grassroot organisations can bid for up to £25,000, in two separate phases, to make sure all people affected by Windrush are aware of the support available.

So far, the compensation scheme has paid out more than £2 million and offered £1 million more.

But the working group said it needed to go further to address the damage done to those they said had been “so badly let down”.

Bishop Derek Webley, said: “The Windrush working group is glad to have collaborated with the Home Office and others to support these important and much needed changes to the existing Compensation Scheme, and are delighted that they will be implemented so swiftly.

“Many will benefit from the relief that these new payments will provide, and begin to move forward with their lives with hope and determination.”

Priti Patel and Bishop Derek Webley, co-chairs of the cross-government working group on Windrush, wrote in The Times they recognised the need to “go further and faster to help those who need it” following complaints about the scheme.

Last month, a probe by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found the government broke the law with its hardline immigration policy and characterised the deportations as a ‘shameful stain’.

The EHRC lambasted the ‘hostile environment’ policy against the Windrush generation, introduced in 2012 by then home secretary Theresa May, who went on to become prime minister.

The Empire Windrush was one of the ships that brought workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to help fill post-war UK labour shortages.

Many of those caught up in the clampdown ultimately lost homes and jobs and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

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