Windrush scandal compensation scheme attacked as figures show lengthy waits for victims on pay-outs

The Home Office’s handling of compensation for victims of the Windrush scandal legal policy director has been attacked as “incompetent and chaotic” by campaigners for immigration rights.

Figures from the National Audit Office show the compensation scheme, set up in 2019, has not met its aim of paying out claimants quickly enough.

The scheme was set up after it was revealed that people who arrived in the UK from the Carribean between the 1940s and 1970s and their descendants were facing deportation and detention despite living in Britain legally for decades due to “hostile environment” policies introduced by then Home Secretary Theresa May.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Changes were made to the compensation scheme last year following criticism about the complexity of the application process, the length of time it took for claimants to receive payment, and the size of payments awarded.

The scheme was set up after it was revealed that people who arrived in the UK from the Carribean between the 1940s and 1970s and their descendants were facing deportation and detention despite living in Britain legally for decades due to “hostile environment” policies introduced by then Home Secretary Theresa May.

The scheme has paid £14.3 million to 633 people thus far but of the money paid out, £11.6 million (81 per cent) was paid to claimants after policy changes came into effect last December.

Just 10 per cent of the 1,033 claims received since March 2020 have reached the payment decision stages, and it has taken an average of 177 days for claims to reach this stage, according to the NAO.

Staff are spending an average of 154 hours to process a case through to payment approval, despite the Home Office estimating claims should take 30 hours to process.

The NAO also said that it had identified errors in how compensation had been allocated and that staffing needs were unclear.

Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The Windrush compensation scheme should never have been left in the hands of an incompetent and chaotic Home Office. It is unfathomable that those responsible for the scandal are able to decide if, and how, victims get redress. The Government’s handling of the scheme has perpetuated harm against those who’ve been so badly wronged, with claimants having to beg for justice and wait months for pay-outs.”

West Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “Three years after the Windrush scandal it is completely unacceptable that the vast majority of those affected still haven’t received a penny in compensation.

“The Home Office promised to right the wrongs and to recognise the financial loss and deep distress that their decisions had caused. Yet the NAO report shows that 70 per cent of people who have applied haven’t even received an interim payment, and it appears many thousands more people have still been put off from applying in the first place.”

The Home Office defended its Windrush compensation scheme yesterday but admitted awards granted may not have been high enough.

A spokesperson said: “We are determined to put right the terrible injustices faced by the Windrush generation by successive governments, which is why the Home Secretary overhauled the Compensation in December, and we are now seeing the positive impact of those changes.

“We know there is more to do and will continue to work hard to ensure payments are made faster and the awards offered are greater.”