It is totally unacceptable that around 2,000 victims of the Windrush Scandal are still waiting for compensation from the UK Government.
The Windrush scandal saw hundreds of Commonwealth citizens who had lived legally in the UK for decades suddenly being treated as though they were illegal immigrants. Many faced deportation while others lost their jobs or entitlement to benefits. When the scandal came to light in 2017 the UK Government promised to set up a compensation scheme, but now an influential committee of MPs has found that the scheme itself suffers from fundamental failures.
I sit on the Public Accounts Committee which last week published a report saying that despite the Home Office promising to "learn lessons”, it is failing the Windrush generation all over again in the compensation scheme.
The report points to failings including making the scheme too complex and difficult for victims to engage with, launching it without enough staff to run it, and taking too long to make decisions on compensation. Some people have died before their claims were dealt with, and two years after its launch only 412 of the 2,367 claims submitted have received their final payment.
The Government's treatment of the Windrush generation was shameful enough but now they're adding to their hurt by making so many fundamental errors in the compensation scheme they set up to help the victims.
People who had lived legally in the United Kingdom for thirty years or more, many of who had been actively encouraged to come here by the Government, suddenly found they were being treated like criminals. The Government admitted they had got it wrong but has repeated many of the same mistakes in the way they've set up the compensation scheme.
Yet again the Public Accounts Committee has found that the Home Office is acting as if it doesn't really care about the impact its decisions are having on people's lives. The Home Office keeps telling us it's learned its lesson and that its culture is changing. We need to see some evidence that these promises are being kept.
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