Government to pay up to £200m in Windrush compensation
Campaigners say that money can never make up for what victims suffered
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has announced that the government will pay up to £200m in compensation to the victims of the Windrush scandal.
“Nothing we say or do will ever wipe away the hurt, the trauma, the loss that should never have been suffered by the men and women of the Windrush generation, but together we can begin to right the wrongs of Windrush,” he said.
The Windrush scandal saw Commonwealth nationals living in the UK wrongly threatened with deportation and deprived of medical care because they lacked the correct documentation.
Announcing the pay-out for those whose lives were damaged by the government’s erroneous classification of long-term British residents as illegal immigrants, Javid said there is “no limit” to the amount of money that could be paid out to victims.
However, his announcement has not satisfied campaigners. Satbir Singh, CEO, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said the announcement was “short on detail” and that “money cannot buy back the years the victims have lost to destitution and anguish - nor can it compensate for the despair they felt”.
Victims have expressed mixed feelings over the news. Asked what she hoped to get from the compensation scheme, Glenda Caesar, who lost her job as an NHS nurse as a result of the scandal said: “I'm asking for not millions... but look at what I was earning, my pension - 10 years of my pension I lost as well - validate that.”
Willow Sims, another victim, says she “doesn't care about the money” but needs “to at least recoup what I have lost”.
Victims also claim they have been snubbed from an official reception to launch the compensation scheme, with immigration lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie saying this proves “nothing has been learned” by the Home Office and that “this group continues to be treated with contempt”.
Javid’s announcement comes almost a year after the government admitted that its treatment of the Windrush generation had been “appalling”, and pledged to reform the immigration system and offer compensation to the Windrush victims.
A Home Office impact assessment has calculated that the scheme will cost between £49m and £587m - including compensation and operational costs. However, the assessment warns there's “significant uncertainty” over costs because it's unclear how many people will apply.
The Windrush group comprises British citizens who came to the UK from the Commonwealth as children following the Second World War, and whose rights were guaranteed in the Immigration Act of 1971. They were named the Windrush generation after British ship the Empire Windrush.