The Government is promising ‘fairness and simplicity’ from its consultation into how compensation will be decided upon for victims of the Windrush scandal – yet I have concerns that only one of those two promises may be met.
The Windrush Compensation Consultation document, presented to parliament for a 12-week consultation, proposes both capping compensation levels and having a minimum size of claim, aimed at making the process simply and saving tax payers’ money.
Launching the scheme, the Home Office said a cap would ensure no-one got a ‘disproportionately high payment’, but I fear we could see a system introduced here where the true impact on peoples’ lives are not reflected in their compensation awards.
Let’s be clear, human rights have been significantly breached
The ‘Windrush generation’ arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries by invitation from the UK by invitation as a response to post-war labour shortages.
Although given an indefinite right to remain, they were not given any documentation and their children were not given passports.
As many arrived as children, travelling on parents’ passports, and have never since applied for travel documents, it is thought the Windrush generation led to thousands of people legally residing and working in the UK.
Due to the Government’s own failings, many migrants from Commonwealth countries have wrongly since been declared illegal immigrants. The impact of this on their lives has been scandalous.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid now says the compensation scheme ‘will help rectify the injustices of the past’ and must be ‘fair, comprehensive and accessible’.
He says it must ‘help to right the wrongs suffered by those of who have faced difficulties and suffered losses as a result of measures in place to tackle illegal immigration”
I have concerns this may not happen, especially with measures such as minimum and maximum amounts being potentially determined before each and every case has been considered.
We must not forget that at least 63 members of the Windrush generation – named after the boat that brought the first Caribbean migrants to the UK – have been wrongfully removed since 2002.
Others have been illegally threatened with deportation, whilst many have been unable to get jobs or lost their employment. Benefits have been denied, as has access to healthcare on the NHS.
Many have also been unable to travel abroad to see family members or for holidays as they have feared being denied reentry to the country.
Windrush generation have been denied their basic human rights of freedom
In essence, these people have been denied their basic human rights.
They have not been able to live the free life they were promised, and expected, when coming to the UK. Not only have completely unjust limits been placed upon their freedom, they have also suffered related stress, anxiety and depression.
Although it is understandable for the Government to seek ‘simplicity’ in a compensation scheme to speed up the process, I often fear such measures fail to fairly compensate all affected, as the impact on each and every individual – and perhaps the wider impact on their families – will have been different in all cases.
From my years in seeking compensation for families let down by the state or organisations, there has never been an ideal or perfect collective solution.
The Windrush victims are being promised compensation because their rights as individuals were overlooked.
That must not happen again.
- Hudgell Solicitors have experience of making applications under statutory redress schemes. Malcolm Johnson represents a number of former residents of Lambeth Council care homes, who are making applications under that local authority’s Redress Scheme. The firm also has a large department dealing with claims to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)