Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Windrush payout a drop in the bucket – Shepherd

Published:Monday | April 15, 2019 | 12:15 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Reparations protagonist Professor Verene Shepherd, who chairs the National Commission on Reparation, says that the recently announced £200-million Windrush compensation plan is inadequate.

According to the professor, compensation that will be paid out to more than 7,000 native or descended Jamaicans is not commensurate with the contribution of those people to “British wealth accumulation”.

“We note that the Windrush Compensation Scheme is an incomplete and complicated process that has been set up by the United Kingdom, one that, once again, disadvantages those, mostly Jamaican nationals, who went to the United Kingdom over six decades ago,” Shepherd said.

She pointed out that no legal assistance has been provided for individuals to make their compensation claim and noted that persons who are now likely to be in their 60s and 70s and who may not have the requisite skills to fill out documents may miss out on their share.

Citing the Windrush Compensation Policy Impact Assessment, reported on in the UK Guardian, if about 30,000 people apply for compensation, the estimated cost could hit a high of £600 million.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that he expected compensation to be in the region of £200 million.

Shepherd said that each affected person requires full compensation that would fully reflect the hardships they have endured over many years as well as loss of jobs and income, debt, homelessness, stress, physical and mental-health problems, detention, and even deportation.

In addition, she said that the Windrush Compensation Scheme highlights the problems faced by reparation movements all across the world, including the Caribbean Reparatory Justice Movement.

“It is much easier to provide money, in theory at least, than to actually correct the wrongs done,” Shepherd said.

“The first step is always an apology, a full and formal apology, one that we ask for in the case of the Windrush debacle, but also, in this Decade for People of African Descent, for the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, African enslavement and their legacies evident in our disfigured spaces. But after that is the requirement of a guarantee of non-repetition.”

Asif Ahmad, the British high commissioner to Jamaica, has urged against focusing on monetising the trauma of the thousands of people who have suffered from the United Kingdom’s (UK) tough immigration laws.

The Windrush Generation are those who migrated to the UK between 1948 and 1971.