Today we are publishing the Home Office’s comprehensive improvement plan, in response to the Windrush lessons learned review. We have worked closely with community leaders and the cross-government Windrush working group to get this important work right, and I am pleased to have the backing of co-chair Bishop Derek Webley on the steps we are taking. I am also grateful to independent reviewer Wendy Williams for the help she has given in shaping our approach.
The Windrush lessons learned review, published in March, exposed unacceptable failings in the Home Office over many years and an “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation”. I have already accepted Wendy Williams’s important findings and repeated my heartfelt apology for the suffering that members of the Windrush generation endured.
The comprehensive improvement plan sets out the action we are taking to put this right and to ensure the mistakes of the past can never be repeated.
It details the work taking place across the Department under the five themes I previously laid out.
Righting the wrongs and learning from the past
We are determined to ensure the Windrush generation have the full help and support they deserve. More than £2.5 million has now been offered through the Windrush compensation scheme and over 13,300 documents have been provided to over 11,500 individuals confirming their status or British citizenship. We are doing more to reach those affected and encourage them to come forward, via a new national communications campaign.
Every member of Home Office staff will also undertake mandatory training on the history of migration and race in the UK so that they better understand the impact of departmental decisions, including when developing and applying immigration policy.
An inclusive workforce
We have relaunched our race action plan to help improve the diversity of staff in senior roles and ensure the Home Office reflects the diverse communities it serves. The permanent secretary has commissioned an overhaul of how performance is managed to better support black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues. To provide robust challenge to our plans to make the Home Office more diverse, external experts will also be invited to join the refreshed strategic advisory board we have established.
Openness to scrutiny
I have directed my officials to engage with community leaders, civil society and the public throughout the policy-making process to understand real-life impacts. It is crucial that the Department is receptive to outside challenge, so I am creating a new community and stakeholder engagement hub at the centre of the Home Office. This will draw on best practice to build knowledge and skills across the Department.
We recognise the particular circumstances of those who travel to this country to work and live and so we are consulting with the cross-government Windrush working group to recommend how best to engage with migrant communities directly and facilitate their feedback into our policy development and operational activity.
In addition, we are overhauling the Department’s risk management framework to ensure all staff have the knowledge and responsibility to act upon risks that are identified.
Inclusive and robust policy making
We are improving how we assess the effect of our policies on people from different backgrounds, including by carrying out more training for staff on how to do this well. We have worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on its investigation into how the Department fulfilled its public sector equality duty on policies affecting the Windrush generation. Following the publication of its report, we will work with it to ensure this important duty is fully considered in all our work.
We are also putting in place a set of policy tests to ensure the key findings from the Windrush lessons learned review are applied as new policy is developed.
A more compassionate approach—people not cases
This theme is the crux of the cultural change the permanent secretary and I want to see. The Home Office must embrace the human impact of its work and empower staff throughout the Department to do the same. To support this, I have launched a new mandatory “Face Behind the Case” training course for all UK visa and immigration staff, with plans to expand this to other areas. A young people’s board is being established to gain crucial insight from those who have recently experienced the immigration system. We are also making rapid progress on the new vision for the Home Office, consulting staff on the core values we all want to embody.
I have already committed to a full review and evaluation of the compliant environment. While it is right that the Department acts against those who are in the UK illegally, we continue to look closely at how innocent people were wrongly caught up in policies designed to target law breakers. The system must be strong, but it also must be just, so if problems are found, I will fix them.
The comprehensive improvement plan will help transform the Home Office and deliver the lasting and meaningful change the Windrush generation deserve. We will monitor our progress and welcome Wendy Williams’s return in September 2021 where I am confident she will see the start of a genuine culture shift.
More detail is available in the comprehensive improvement plan, which has been laid before Parliament (CP 293), available at:
Copies are also available from the Vote Office.