By Leah Conway –
A recent report has revealed that victims of the Windrush Scandal have yet to receive any compensation, over two years since promises were first made.
The Windrush Scandal was first brought to light back in 2018. It was revealed that many Black Britons from the Windrush generation that had lived in the UK for decades had been wrongfully detained, were denied legal rights, threatened and even deported.
Many people suffered, losing jobs, homes and access to welfare and NHS services.
The Home Office set up a compensation scheme to offer payments back in April 2019. However, Watchdog has now revealed that victims of the scandal continue to wait for their compensation.
The National Audit Office (NAO) also said that the Windrush Compensation Scheme is yet to meet its targets and those impacted are still facing long waits.
The Home Office said it would work hard to ensure payments are made faster, but the scheme was set up in 2019; it is now 2021, so when this will be exactly, remains vague.
Sadly, 21 People died before receiving any kind of compensation, and human rights lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie has called the delays ‘unacceptable’.
Speaking with the BBC, she said: “People are taking a year, 18 months, to even get their first offers. So it says something is very, very wrong.”
Paulette Wilson was once of the most prominent cases of someone who had died before receiving compensation.
Glenda Caesar is another victim. She was unable to work for almost 10 years and could not claim welfare during this time.
Commenting on Pauline’s death, Glenda said: “It’s made people realise, my God, she was a high profile case and to know that they still haven’t sorted out her compensation, well what are they doing?”
“It’s such a straightforward thing, but they make it so complicated and turn it into something which is causing a lot of anxiety to people and some people give up.
“I don’t want to hear another person’s died through stress, I don’t want to hear that at all and that’s exactly what is happening to our age group.”
Impact on Life
In 2019, Glenda rejected a compensation offer of £22,000 and has since rejected further offers. Now, Glenda has had her claim revised and has settled on an undisclosed amount of compensation.
On her first offers, Glenda said, “I was shocked,” she says, “to get a letter saying we’re offering you £13,000 for loss of employment, we’re offering you £7,000 for Impact on Life and we’re offering you £1,500 for detainment.
“I was like, there’s something wrong somewhere, I have to go public with this, this isn’t fair.”
Glenda shared that she contemplated taking her own life in this period and that the application process to compensation has been stressful and impacted her anxiety levels.
Holly Stow is a Senior Caseworker at North Kensington Law Centre. The Centre represented almost 50 people claiming compensation after the Windrush scandal.
Ms Stow revealed that no one she has represented had received a top-level ‘impact on life’ offer, not even when people have gone to their GP and mentioned suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm.
Ms Stow commented: “It makes you wonder, what do these people have to go through to be able to show that their life has seriously been affected by this?”
Windrush Campaigner Patrick Vernon said: “It is outrageous that victims of the scandal are still dying because of the hostile environment policy.
“Clearly, now this is a public health issue, where the psychological and emotional impact have failed to be addressed by the Home Office, Department of Health and Care and NHS England.
“This is further evidence the government have failed the Windrush Generation and their families.”
Many have deemed the Home Office’s delays ‘unacceptable’. A spokesperson for the Home Office recently said that they are “determined to put right the terrible injustices faced by the Windrush generation by successive governments.”
It has been over three years since the compensation scheme was initiated. Many have died without seeing a penny of compensation for traumas the Home Office doesn’t appear to see as worthy of being classed as an ‘impact of life’.
Despite deportation, detention, threats and more that cannot be so easily forgotten.
So, it won’t be surprising if the words from official Home Office spokespersons are seen as hollow promises and taken with a pinch, or two, of salt.
Our short film, ‘Windrush – Untold Stories’ features the stories and experiences of some of those most affected by the Windrush Scandal.