Windrush Compensation Claims

What would you do if you faced the risk of losing your job, your home and your right to work and live in the UK?

Sadly, this is the devastating reality which has been faced by the thousands of people wrongly caught up in the Windrush scandal – because of a series of errors made by the Home Office.

If you’re one of the people who endured unimaginable distress because of Government failures, you may now be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured.

At Hudgell Solicitors, we are fielding weekly enquiries from a wide demographic of people who have been affected by this situation.

Our specialist solicitors are closely monitoring developments around a compensation scheme, which is being devised by the Government, on their behalf.

This will put us in a position to potentially submit claims for damages as soon as the redress scheme details are confirmed.

We would people to come forward and explain their situation to our team in advance, so that we can help understand their rights as early as possible.

What is the Windrush scandal?

In 2012, the Home Office sought to cut down on illegal immigration in the UK and introduced a policy which made it harder for illegal immigrants to seek permanent residency.

This meant anyone without the relevant documentation to remain in the UK would face deportation unless they could prove their credentials.

It was a move which altered the legal status of thousands of people almost overnight, particularly those who were invited to the UK from Commonwealth countries between 1948 and 1971 to help rebuild Britain after World War II – and who subsequently became known as the ‘Windrush generation’.

Under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens were granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they already lived in the country. However, the Home Office did not keep a record of everyone who was granted permission to do so.

Despite being encouraged to settle in Britain by the Government – and legally living in the UK for decades – many people who arrived from Commonwealth countries were wrongly classed as illegal immigrants because of the 2012 change to immigration laws.

This meant that when the Home Office embarked on its so-called “hostile environment” policy, designed to make staying in the UK more difficult, some Commonwealth immigrants had their Human Rights infringed or were wrongly deported.

This happened because they did not have the formal paperwork needed to confirm their residency status – even though they’d been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

As anyone who was caught up in the Windrush scandal will know, these problems were compounded by a Home Office decision (taken in 2010) to destroy their landing cards – often the only record of their immigration status.

In line with the new hard-hitting policy; employers, NHS staff and landlords had to obtain evidence of a person’s citizenship or immigration status in order for them to access to services. Some of those who could not do so were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants – and were denied healthcare treatments, lost their jobs or were evicted from their homes.

Many others were wrongly detained and deported.

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Who was affected?

Not everyone who came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation has been caught up in the Windrush scandal.

It was those who did not apply for a passport or formalise their residency status, or those who could not produce the documentation to prove it, who were the hardest hit.

Unfortunately, this affected thousands of people and families, including some who came to the UK as children on their parents’ passports between 1948 and 1971.

When the rules changed in 2012, they were now adults themselves and – despite paying UK taxes their entire adult lives – their Human Rights were denied or they were detained or deported.

What damage was done?

The most common issues suffered by people caught up in the Windrush scandal includes:

  • Being wrongfully deported from the UK
  • Being wrongful detained
  • Travel restrictions and being prevented from returning to the UK
  • Loss of the right to work and income and benefits
  • Unexpected costs – immigration status fees & legal advice etc
  • Difficulty accessing bank accounts and driving licences etc
  • Emotional distress – worry and anxiety and family separation
  • Difficulty accessing public services

All of this happened simply because the right documentation could not be provided, not because any laws had been broken.

If you or someone you know has been affected by circumstances similar to those outlined above, it is now possible to claim compensation for the pain and suffering experienced.

Can I get compensation if I’ve been affected?

Having apologised for the Windrush scandal, the Government is currently trying to put a compensation scheme in place for any Commonwealth citizen who faced difficulties establishing their residency status under the immigration system.

According to a Home Office statement issued in December 2018, the Government is determined to “right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation” and they acknowledge that a fair and effective compensation scheme is a key part of that.

The exact framework is expected to be announced in 2019, with non-financial remedies – such as an apology or re-instatement of employment – set to be available, alongside compensation settlements.

Whilst the scheme is still being set up, individual payments can also be made to people who are in urgent need or if they are an exceptional case.

Who will be eligible to apply?

Whilst exact details of the redress scheme are yet to be revealed, anyone who incurred loss or damage as a result of the Windrush scandal should be able to make a claim.

Any member of the Windrush generation who was wrongly accused of living in the UK illegally by the Home Office should also be compensated.

For more details about how to make a claim, get in touch and arrange a free initial consultation with a specialist solicitor.

What could you claim compensation for?

  • Unlawful detention or removal from UK.
  • Denial of exit or re-entry to UK.
  • Loss of income.
  • Loss of benefits.
  • Denial of access to public, private or other services.
  • Any fees paid to secure immigration status – connected to Home Office application.
  • Supplementary items – fees for copies of official documents or the certification of documents.
  • Legal costs – paid to secure immigration status (subject to a cap).
  • Recompense for impact on normal daily life.

How will compensation payments be calculated?

Although not yet finalised, it is expected that a tariff will be set up by the Government to calculate the compensation levels for losses which cannot be qualified precisely – such as the impact on a person’s normal daily life.

Losses with a ‘known value’ should be fully reimbursed, such as any fees which have been paid.

Losses with no specific value – such as anxiety and distress – should be calculated according to the type of loss.

Discretionary awards will also be made for exceptional circumstances.

Will there be any limitations to the scheme?

There is expected to be a maximum amount which can be paid – and a minimum claim size.

The total compensation payment will be calculated by taking into account the “full range of circumstances of the individual” and not by adding together the different type of losses.

Compensation paid from other sources (backdated benefits etc) will be considered.