Windrush: Campaigners criticise 'paltry' payouts

Jamaican men being welcomed by RAF officials after the Empire Windrush arrrived at Tilbury on 22 June 1948Image copyright

Image caption

The Windrush generation take their name from the ship that brought the first West Indies immigrants to Britain in 1948

Campaigners have branded compensation to victims of the Windrush scandal as “paltry” after it was revealed that only £62,198 has been paid out so far.

So far 1,108 claims have been made for the estimated £200m fund – but only 36 people have received money by December, the Home Office said.

The scandal saw people with a right to live in the UK being wrongly targeted as illegal immigrants.

The scheme, unveiled in April 2019, is being extended by two years.

Applications will now remain open until 2 April 2023.

The Home Office said many of the payouts under the Windrush Compensation Scheme so far were interim payments but it would not say how many people had received final payouts or the proportion of cash per person.

Up to 15,000 claims are expected to be lodged in total.

The Windrush generation arrived mainly from Commonwealth countries between 1948 and 1971. They had lived in the UK for decades before some were wrongly told they were in the country illegally after changes to immigration law in 2012.

Dawn Hill, chairwoman of the Black Cultural Archives’ board, which is supporting victims, said a “paltry amount” had been paid out given the time the scheme had been operating.

Campaigner Patrick Vernon said the payout figures were “quite low”, given the thousands of people caught up in the scandal.

He called for victims to be given automatic payouts of £10,000 with the chance to make an additional claim.

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Media captionChiplyn Burton was denied entry back into the UK after a trip to Jamaica in the 1970s

Campaigners also urged the Home Office to put more funding behind publicity, saying a national campaign was needed on the scale of the EU settlement scheme – which has an advertising budget of about £4m.

The Home Office would not confirm how much was being spent on publicising the scheme but said it was committed to ensuring as many eligible people apply and funding had been given to Citizens Advice to help participants.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government had listened to feedback to hear how the government “can begin to do justice to those who have contributed so much to our country”.

The application criteria is also now being made “more flexible” to take a wider range of circumstances into account.

The scheme is open to people from Commonwealth countries who arrived and settled in the UK before 1973. Some relatives, including children and grandchildren, may also be eligible.

It is also open to people from any nationality who have the right to live or work in the UK without restrictions or are now a British citizen and arrived in the country before December 31 1988.


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