MPS want the Windrush Compensation Scheme to be run independently of the Home Office. Image: UK parliament
MPs have called for control of the Windrush compensation scheme to be taken away from the Home Office – in yet another scathing report into its failures.
The very fact the scheme is run by the same department which caused the Windrush scandal is undermining confidence in it, the Home Affairs Committee report said.
Just 5 per cent of the estimated 15,000 eligible had received a penny of compensation by September – with 23 dying before they received any money.
The report said the scheme’s design was a “damning indictment” of the Home Office, and contained some of the same “bureaucratic sensitivities” which led to the Windrush scandal originally.
Yvette Cooper, the committee’s chair, said: “It is staggering, given the failures of the Windrush scandal, that the Home Office has allowed some of the same problems to affect the Windrush compensation scheme too.
This report is the fourth official report this year to sharply criticise the Home Office’s handling of the compensation scheme.
Justice, a human rights charity, said earlier this month that fear and mistrust of the department was stopping victims from claiming compensation, and called for control of the scheme to be taken away from the department.
In July, the Public Accounts Committee said the scheme was failing the Windrush generation with the understaffed scheme, which was “beset with the very same issues that led to the initial terrible mistakes.”
In May, the National Audit Office found victims were being compensated too slowly, and were not being encouraged to come forward, blaming – again – a lack of trust and confidence in the Home Office.
Speaking after the release of this most recent report, Cooper added: “It has been four years since the Windrush scandal emerged and it is truly shocking how few people have received any compensation for the hardship they endured at the hands of the Home Office.
“It is particularly distressing that twenty-three individuals have died without receiving any compensation. Urgent action is needed to get compensation to those who have been so badly wronged.”
Responding to the Justice report, he told The Big Issue: “This builds on the concerns raised over the last few years by campaigners, lawyers and victims about the inappropriateness of the Home Office running the scheme.
“Ultimately it’s about Priti Patel now recognising this. The community has made it very clear we don’t trust the Home Office to manage the scheme. The home secretary now needs to do the right thing and start the process of finding a new agency to manage it so confidence can be restored and justice given.
“It’s imperative – too many people have died without receiving compensation.”
The Home Office said it had already simplified the claims process and brought in new support measures for those claiming on behalf of relatives who have died. The scheduled end date for the scheme has also been removed and more caseworkers are being hired.
A spokesperson said: “The home secretary has been resolute in her determination to ensure everyone affected by the Windrush scandal receives the full compensation to which they are entitled.
“We are pleased this report welcomes the significant improvements we have made to the scheme, including its overhaul last December. Since then the amount of compensation paid has risen from less than £3million to over £31.6m, with a further £5.6m having been offered.
“Many of the issues raised in this report are already being addressed and several recommendations have previously been considered.
“For example, we continue to firmly believe that moving the operation of the scheme out of the Home Office would risk significantly delaying vital payments to those affected. However, we are always open to making further improvements and will reflect carefully on the report’s findings.”
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