Windrush debate: July 2021

Dear constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about the Windrush generation and the recent debate.

So far as the debate on the 1st June is concerned, I was unable to attend as a result of pre-existing commitments, although I have been able to review the outcome of the debate - Windrush Day 2021 - Thursday 1 July 2021 - Hansard - UK Parliament and was pleased to read the Minister’s summary of the ways in which the Government has been addressing the issues faced by the Windrush generation.

However, over several decades the members of the Windrush generation were not treated with the respect they deserved. I fully accept that some members of the Windrush generation suffered great injustices over many decades at the hands of successive Governments. This was wrong. 

I welcome the firm commitment by Ministers to do everything possible to right these wrongs and ensure this can never happen again. 

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.

The compensation scheme has seen significant improvements. 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 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.

Since April 2019 the Scheme has offered or paid almost £30 million in compensation to members of the Windrush generation.

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.

Within six weeks of the changes to the compensation scheme 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.

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.

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.

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. 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

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.

In view of the seriousness of the issues faced by the Windrush generation, I wanted to set out as fully as possible the steps which have been taken, and are being taken, to address this injustice.

Thank you for getting in touch.

Yours sincerely,

richard fuller

Richard Fuller MP