LONDON – British Home Secretary Sajid Javid opened an estimated £200 million (US$263 million) scheme to compensate members of the so-called Windrush generation, including immigrants from the Caribbean, who were unable to prove their right to live in the United Kingdom.
The Windrush Compensation Scheme which was designed in consultation with those affected and will have independent oversight, is the latest step in the government’s commitment to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation.
It will provide payments to eligible individuals who did not have the right documentation to prove their status in the UK and suffered adverse effects on their life as a result. These could range from a loss of employment or access to housing, education or NHS healthcare to emotional distress or deterioration in mental and physical health.
Responding to questions after how much the scheme would cost, after making the announcement in the House of Commons, Javid said: “There is no cap on the scheme, so no one knows what the eventual cost will be. It will be based on people’s needs and the claims that are made by eligible people, but the baseline estimate from my Department is that it will be approximately £200 million.”
Last April, Javid established the Windrush Taskforce that has helped over 3,600 people secure British citizenship. An independent review, led by Wendy Williams, has also been set up to establish what went wrong and how to prevent it happening again.
“When I became Home Secretary I vowed to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation. We’ve been working tirelessly to fulfil that promise ever since and have helped more than 3,600 people secure the citizenship they were entitled to,” Javid said.
“But it’s right that we compensate those who faced extreme difficulties and hardship – and this scheme will go some way in doing that. The Windrush generation have given so much to this country and we will ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Many of those affected were people from Caribbean countries who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971.
Queen’s Counsel Martin Forde was appointed to oversee the design of the compensation scheme, providing independent scrutiny on the operation of the initiative.
“I have been involved in advising the Home Office on the design of the Windrush Compensation Scheme, and I believe it is accessible and most importantly, fairly compensates those who have suffered,” he said.
“The scheme has been built on feedback from affected communities, and their personal stories have been crucial in its design.”
The first call for evidence received 650 responses and a formal consultation on the compensation scheme generated responses from almost 1,500 individuals and organizations.
The scheme is open to anyone of 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 December 31, 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.
People who were wrongfully detained or removed from the UK could also be able to make a claim.
The Home Office will also refund fees paid for certain immigration applications that were unsuccessful, and reimburse certain associated legal costs that were incurred.
The Windrush generation was named after the ship that brought the first 492 passengers from Jamaica, Trinidad and other islands to Britain in 1948 – HMT Empire Windrush. A total of 500,000 workers and their families were eventually invited to the UK from former colonies and granted citizenship as subjects of the empire, to help rebuild the country after World War II. (Caribbean 360)