In what Windrush campaigners are describing as a win, the Home Office has removed the April 2023 deadline that those affected by the WIndrush scandal could apply for compensation for the wrongs they suffered. Garrick Prayogg, a Windrush Campaigner based in Liverpool had maintained the date was arbitrary and could stop some victims from making claims for either losing their jobs, houses, healthcare or suffered family break ups when a Home Office decisions stopped them from applying for settled status British citizenship. Victims of the Windrush initially came mostly from the Caribbean Islands but the Home Office has since extended the remit and people from commonwealth and other countries who also faced immigration issues and came to the UK before 1988 can now apply to the Windrush Taskforce to regularise their status and apply for compensation if they suffered any loses.
Statistics also indicates the Home Office has now paid out close to £27 million to 776 different claims as it continues to try to correct the wrongs thousands of people and their descendants faced who came to the UK and were later denied British citizenship. Another offer of almost £7 million has been offered to some victims with negotiations underway.
Overseas Victims encouraged to apply to Taskforce
Some people expected to also benefit from the Windrush scheme now live abroad after they were either deported or left when the Home Office did not extend their visas or rejected their applications for permanent residence. Those who qualify are advised to contact the Windrush taskforce and can do so by sending initial emails to the following emails;
Application Process simplified
The application process has also been simplified including changes to the primary claim form, designed in consultation with stakeholders, to make it easier to complete and easier for caseworkers to process.
The Home Office has also published refreshed caseworker guidance, which sets out clearly how caseworkers should make decisions on claims and ensure they only ask applicants to provide the minimum information necessary to award the maximum compensation.
Talking about the changes to the scheme, Home Secretary Priti Patel said; “I’ve been clear from the outset that I will always listen to those affected and act to put right the terrible injustices they faced. I overhauled the scheme in December, which has now seen more than £34 million offered or paid….The changes I’m announcing today go even further, underlining my determination to make sure every victim receives the compensation they so rightly deserve.”
In addition, the Home Office is also launching a package of support to make it easier for those making claims on behalf of a relative who has passed away.
This includes reimbursing up to £1,500 towards legal advice that has been sought to apply for probate, which is the legal right to deal with someone’s estate when they die. We Are Digital, who provide independent advice for those claiming compensation, will also be able to provide free help and support to those applying for probate, including how to complete the different application forms.
The Home Office will be writing to all those who have already made claims on behalf of a relative who has passed away without evidence of probate, and publishing information about the support available on gov.uk in the coming weeks.
This rapid increase in payments has been driven by an overhaul of the scheme announced by the Home Secretary last December, following consultation with community representatives including the Cross-Government Windrush Working Group.
Those changes included increasing the minimum payment to £10,000, which is 40 times greater than the previous minimum award available.
Last December, the Home Secretary launched the £500,000 Windrush Community Fund, for grassroots organisations and community groups to promote and raise awareness of the Windrush Schemes.
.Whilst the Home Office initially estimated it would receive around 15,000 eligible claims, it has received 2,631 since the compensation scheme launched. The compensation scheme planning assumption – the number of eligible claims the Home Office estimates it is likely to receive – is therefore being adjusted to a range of 4,000 – 6,000. It is not a cap and any eligible individual who applies will be considered for compensation. It remains the case that there is no cap on the total amount of compensation the Home Office will pay out.
Further guidance notes.
New caseworker guidance is now live here Windrush compensation scheme casework guidance (publishing.service.gov.uk)
New primary form and guidance is now live here Windrush Compensation Scheme: claim forms and guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Please click on this link for the Factsheet: Windrush Compensation Scheme factsheet – July 2021 – Home Office in the media (blog.gov.uk)