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Windrush scandal: changes to compensation scheme

Changes to the Windrush Compensation Scheme have been welcomed, but further, fundamental changes are needed for the Scheme to be fit for purpose, Leigh Day lawyers have told the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee this week.

Posted on 18 December 2020

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced this week (Monday 14 December) that claimants would receive at least £10,000 through the Impact on Life category once their claim has been approved, 40 times the minimum award currently available.

Other changes include that people with pending applications will be considered for a preliminary payment by March, 2021 and caps on earnings compensation have been adjusted.

Leigh Day represents many clients who were badly affected by the Windrush scandal and responded to a call for evidence from the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee about the rate of progress of the Windrush Compensation Scheme, introduced in April 2019.

Its submissions, based on the substantial evidence of its clients, said:

  • The Windrush Compensation Scheme is not presently fit for purpose.
  • There are fundamental flaws in the overarching design of the scheme, for example, because it is not administered by an independent body and because it precludes funding for legal advice.
  • There are flaws in the way the rules have been drafted, they are often restrictive or ambiguous or do not invite a suitable award of compensation.
  • There is a lack of clear communication at every stage of the process; stringent requirements on evidence; and endless delays and lack of adequate resource investment is forcing applicants to lose hope of ever obtaining compensation for the wrongs they have suffered.
  • It is imperative that the Home Office immediately follow through on their words of apology and implement a compensation scheme that will allow the Windrush generation to start to put their lives back together.

In their evidence to the committee, the lawyers said:

  • Very few people have been compensated and the Home Office has fallen far short of its promise more than two years ago to right the wrongs done to the Windrush generation.
    There is no independent body assessing claims, and claimants are offered no publicly funded legal advice.
  • Applicants are asked to provide unreasonable amounts of evidence sometimes of a type that would not be expected to be held by a lay person and sometimes dating back many years.
  • The length of time taken to process claims is unacceptable, up to 576 days for some of Leigh Day’s clients. Many clients, now of retirement age, simply believe the Home Office is waiting for them to die. The majority of Leigh Day claimants’ Windrush Compensation Scheme claims are still outstanding.
  • Compensation sums offered are wholly inadequate and the types of losses you can claim for under the Windrush Compensation Scheme is unduly restrictive.
  • The Windrush scandal has had far-reaching impacts on people’s housing, with many left homeless, their education, their finances, including pensions and security for old age.

Leigh Day solicitor Stephanie Hill said:

“The experiences that have informed our evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee demonstrate the profound effect that the Windrush scandal has had on our clients’ lives. It is disappointing that the Compensation Scheme has so far fallen so short of our clients’ needs. We hope that our evidence will go some way to helping the committee to understand what has gone wrong and what needs to be put right.”

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