UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has previously issued a formal apology for the Windrush immigration scandal which wrongly denied citizenship rights to thousands of Commonwealth nationals, announced a major boost to payouts from a compensation scheme set up in its wake.
Individuals affected will now receive a minimum of £10,000 compensation through the "Impact on Life" category once their claim has been approved, up from £250 currently available. In addition, the minister has significantly increased payments at all levels within the Impact on Life category with the maximum available rising from £10,000 to £100,000 for eligible cases, with an option to go higher in exceptional circumstances.
The Windrush generation refers to citizens of former British colonies who arrived in the UK before 1973, when the immigration rules were changed. While a large proportion of the Windrush generation are of Jamaican/Caribbean descent who came on the ship Empire Windrush on June 22, 1948, Indian and other South Asian immigrants from that era also fall within the Windrush generation categorisation and many would qualify if they have been adversely impacted.
said: “Today I am announcing significant changes to the Windrush Compensation Scheme so that those affected will now receive significantly more money, much more quickly.
“I have always said that I will listen and act to help those who suffered terrible injustices and today’s changes are an important step in rebuilding trust and moving forward together,” she said.
The scheme was put in place in the wake of the scandal from over two years ago, which caused hardship to immigrants largely from the Caribbean but also including many Indians. They had been welcomed into Britain to address labour shortages in the wake of but after immigration rules were tightened, it resulted in many historic cases of forced deportations or denial of other citizenship-related rights due to the migrants' lack of sufficient paperwork to prove a legitimate entry and settlement in the UK.
The enhanced payments announced this week for eligible applicants will be paid as a new early preliminary payment as soon as someone applying on their own behalf or on behalf of a deceased relative can show any impact on their life under the terms of the Windrush Scheme. They won’t have to wait for their whole application to be assessed, officials said.
The said it will start to issue some offers of preliminary payments this week and will begin making payments under the new rules from January 1, 2021. The department is also removing a 12-month cap on compensation for lost earnings, meaning that people will be compensated for the actual period that they were out of work in all circumstances.
UK Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft said: “The Windrush Compensation Scheme needed to be improved so victims receive the compensation they rightfully deserve as quickly as possible and at the right level.
“We are making significant changes so individuals won’t have to wait for their whole application to be assessed before they start receiving money.”
The Compensation Scheme became operational in April 2019 and has paid out more than £2 million and a further £1 million has been offered.
The Home Office has now also opened the £500,000 Windrush Community Fund for bids, which means community and grassroot organisations can bid for up to £25,000, in two separate phases, to ensure that those who are part of the Windrush generation are aware of the support available through the Windrush schemes.