The Windrush Scandal undoubtedly caused unnecessary pain, anxiety and suffering for the many innocent people caught up in it. Obviously, the Government’s formal announcement of a scheme to compensate these victims is a welcome move, even if it is long overdue. But the victims may only receive the justice – and apology – they deserve if they need to proceed with caution.
The Windrush Compensation scheme, details of which were revealed on 3 April 2019, has been designed to receive applications direct from claimants so that they can make an application without legal representation.
But for any case to be successful, potential claimants will have to understand the scheme’s finer details – or their fight for justice could be refused.
This is because some parts of the Scheme are quite precise and require a basic understanding of immigration law – as well as the law of detention and deportation. It’s also clear from the guidance issued by the Government that applicants should be precise in the way that their claim is presented.
Those making a claim on behalf of a deceased person will need a grant of probate or letters of administration.
Worryingly, the scheme can reduce or refuse to issue an award for compensation if a claimant has not “mitigated” their loss – or where they have failed to take reasonable steps to resolve their immigration status.
Unfortunately, this could catch quite a few people out – and I’d strongly recommend that innocent victims seek legal advice before attempting to make a claim.
The Home Office has also made it very clear that as well as submitting all forms correctly, claimants must present evidence of their losses.
In my experience, gathering evidence in relation to loss of earnings or how the effects have impacted upon a person’s life needs considerable thought and effort.
As an experienced solicitor who knows this complex area of the law, I’d advise victims to think carefully and always seek legal advice before making an application to this scheme. Putting a qualified expert in charge of your case often makes the process easier – and can help to prevent further distress or worry.
At Hudgell Solicitors, we’re fielding weekly enquiries from a wide range of people affected by the Windrush Scandal. We would urge anyone who’s been affected to get in touch so that we can help them understand their rights.
The Government has, quite rightly, made it clear that substantial compensation will be available for those who have been caught up in this scandal.
Sadly, no amount of money can ever make up for the despair that victims felt at losing their jobs, homes, health or sense of identity. But receiving the apology and compensation which is rightfully deserved may help to bring closure to an awful and unlawful chapter in UK history which should never have happened.
How much Windrush compensation could victims receive?
The amounts payable are set out in a series of “Annexes” to the Scheme.
Below is a basic summary of potential settlements figures.
This should not be taken as legal advice and is no substitute for reading the Scheme or taking advice from a specialist solicitor:
Denial of access to:
Child benefit: £1,264
Child tax credit: £2,500
Working tax credit: £1,100
Housing services: £1,000
NHS Healthcare: £500 – with reimbursement of certain private healthcare fees
Higher education: £500 – including potentially international student fees
Banking services: £200 – with potential reimbursement of losses arising
Deportation: £1,000 to £10,000 depending on the type of deportation
Detention: An hourly rate of £500 an hour for the first three hours following a minimum period of 30 minutes in detention reducing to £300 and £100 thereafter for the first 24 hours, and then after 24 hours, £500 per day for the next 30 days and £300 per day for the next 60 days, and £100 per day thereafter.
A person detained for 31 days and 30 mins would receive £19,800. A person detained for a year (365 days and 30 mins) would receive £65,200.
Loss of earnings: There are two types of awards under the Scheme – actual loss of earnings (which could be considerable) and a general award up to 12 months.
Homelessness: £250 per month with a maximum award of £25,000
Impact on life: £250 to £10,000-plus – top awards will be paid for “Profound impacts on a claimant’s life which are likely to be irreversible.”
Discretionary award: An unspecified award that does not come under the awards already described in the Scheme.
Who can apply to the Windrush compensation scheme?
The Scheme is open to anyone from any nationality who has the right to live or work in the UK without any restrictions or is now a British Citizen, and arrived in the UK before 31 December 1988.
It is also open to anyone from a Commonwealth country who arrived and settled in the UK before 1973. Certain children and grandchildren of those arriving before 1973 and some close family members may also be eligible to apply, where there has been a significant impact on their life or evidence of certain direct financial costs.
To make a claim it is not necessary to have gone through the Task Force application process and those administering the Scheme will not share a Claimant’s information with Immigration Enforcement, even if the claim is unsuccessful.
The estates of those who are now deceased but who would have otherwise been eligible to claim compensation, may be able to apply.
Is there a time limit to make a claim?
Yes – all claims must be submitted on or before the 2nd April 2021 – although this can be extended in exceptional circumstances.
Whilst two years may sound like a long time, in our experience claims of this nature are complex and it’s wise to act as soon as possible.
For more details on the Government scheme, click here or get in touch for free, confidential and expert advice.