Windrush Compensation Scheme – an update and changes

The Windrush Compensation Scheme (“the Scheme”) has been beset by difficulties and criticism since it was first launched in April, 2019.

In the spring of 2018, the Home Office acknowledged serious shortcomings in its treatment of the Windrush generation, the Home Office accepted that it had treated the Windrush generation unfairly and announced a set of measures to “right the wrongs” experienced by those affected.

One of those measures was to establish the Scheme referred to above, which aimed to compensate members of the Windrush generation and their families for the losses and impacts they have suffered due to not being able to demonstrate their lawful immigration status.

In an earlier blog posted on 8 June 2020 we looked at the operation of the Scheme in its first year, even at that stage there was criticism that it had only managed to pay out £360,000 in compensation in its first year of operation.

There has been further criticism from all sides as to the complexity of the claim process and the length of time it takes for claimants to receive compensation, with some claimants dying before receiving payment.

The Scheme has also been criticised due to the amount of documentation claimants must provide to support their claims. The claim form has 18 pages, plus 44 pages of guidance. Completing the form is technically challenging especially as in addition to completing the claim form claimant’s must also submit doctors’ notes, official letters, bills etc.

Others point to the psychological impact faced by those seeking compensation from the Scheme. Those applying for compensation have to consider their past and quantify what they suffered as a result of the Home Office’s mistakes. This requires claimants to consider the psychological impact, if any, that they have suffered as a result of the loss of jobs and homes, difficulties with the NHS and relationship problems caused or exacerbated by separation, financial hardship and stress. Where a relative died after being deported or declared illegal, a traumatic loss may have to be revisited in order to bring a formal claim under the Scheme.

Despite these onerous requirements the Home Office initially said that the Scheme though comprehensive had been designed to be easy to use and claimants should not require legal assistance to make a claim. However, since the first quarter of 2021 the Home Office has funded an organisation called We Are Digital to provide free, independent claimant assistance to individuals for the duration of the Scheme.

In December 2020, the Home Office announced changes to the Scheme, including an increase in payments for ‘impact on life’ and a commitment to make a preliminary payment as soon as impact on life had been established, this preliminary payment is set at £10,000.

A two-year extension, giving people until 2023 to send in their claims has also been announced.

On 24 June the Home Office published the latest set of data on the Scheme which covers the period to the end of May 2021.

During the month of May, the Home Office paid out £3.9 million in compensation.

To the end of May 2021:

  • More than £24.4 million in compensation has been paid across 732 claims.
  • In addition, a further £8 million has been offered in compensation, awaiting acceptance or pending review.
  • More than £4 million has been paid or offered in compensation awards.

The Scheme has also been plagued with reports that even where those affected have been successful in receiving payments, the payments made under the Scheme are unsatisfactory and do not fully compensate for the harm suffered.

A further BLOG will address this criticism and also comment on the recently published report of the National Audit Office on the establishment and administration of the scheme and the progress it has made in implementing the changes from December 2020 which was published on the 21 May, 2021.

Written by Sharon Moohan, Partner at BLM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s