Wed | Jul 28, 2021

More generous Windrush payouts begin

Published:Tuesday | December 15, 2020 | 12:15 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Following criticism from scores of Windrush victims who have been complaining about the low offers and long delays in receiving compensation, the United Kingdom has decided to fast-track the payments and make them more generous.

Dr Desmond Jaddoo, chairman of the Windrush National Organisation (WNO), welcomed the announcement as a step in the right direction.

He said replacing the impact-of-life tariff with a basic payment upwards of £10,000 goes some way to acknowledge the distress suffered by many persons caught up in the Windrush scandal.

“Of course, we will have to look at the bones in terms of the application of this, along with the timeline for payments, which we understand will be fast-tracked and we need to understand what that looks like,” Jaddoo said.

He told The Gleaner his organisation will be seeking an audience with the Home Office in order to clarify the exact application and accessibility of the revised payout protocol.

Jaddoo said that fast-tracking payments do not negate the fact that despite the number of applications, only one in seven applicants has been paid to date.

“Notwithstanding this, it is a step in the right direction and we will now be seeking to ensure that these changes are rigorously applied in the compensation scheme,” he said.

Under the new mechanism, anyone that has already received an offer of payment under the scheme will have their cases reviewed, with a basic minimum award of £10,000 set to be offered to everyone who can show that the scandal has had a negative impact on their lives, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced. She added that the improved payouts started yesterday.

The Windrush scandal saw thousands of people who had moved to England after World War II to help it rebuild and have been living there for decades being miscategorised as immigration offenders.

Scores were detained and deported to countries they had left up to half a century ago, while other ended up losing their homes, jobs and denied social services such as pensions, benefits and access to the National Health Service.

Importantly, the cap on the “impact of life” category of the award has been raised from £10,000 to £100,000. Those with exceptional cases will be in line to receive more.

Helped build Britain

Patel told the UK parliament yesterday that the Windrush Generation helped build the Britain “we know and love today” and that the compensation scheme is a key part of efforts to right the wrongs “they endured”.

At least nine people are known to have died in the period between making an application for compensation and receiving an offer.

Martin Forde, QC, the man who designed the scheme, had said that the Home Office had ignored vital aspects of his advice on its implementation.

On news of an increase in payouts, Forde said that he was “delighted at the development”, but defended the scheme against wider accusations of delays, pointing out that expectations had been mismanaged and that many compensation schemes routinely take 18 months to process claims.

At the end of November, £2.2 million had been paid out to 226 claimants from the compensation pot, which is expected to dole out more than £200 million to as many as 15,000 people.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com