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Windrush Compensation Scheme

Volume 696: debated on Monday 7 June 2021

What progress her Department has made on disbursing payments through the Windrush compensation scheme. (901013)

In December, I overhauled the Windrush compensation scheme to pay people more money more quickly; that has now taken place. We have now paid six times more than the total amount paid previously. That means that we have offered almost £30 million in compensation, of which £20.4 million has been paid to approximately 687 claimants.

I heard what the Secretary of State said, but the recent National Audit Office report into the Windrush compensation scheme that was published on 21 May stated that just 4% of the 15,000 people who may be eligible for the scheme had received payments—way below the numbers forecast and a small fraction of the total expected payout. I have constituents in Warwick and Leamington who have been patiently awaiting compensation for almost 18 months. Given that the process takes an extraordinary 15 steps and an average of 154 staff hours, will the Secretary of State detail how many full-time time caseworkers are dealing with the compensation scheme, and how many caseworkers she estimates are required to expedite this scheme in the next two years?

First, it is important to reflect on how the scheme has fundamentally changed since December. I have already highlighted the levels of payment and the speed at which the claims are being dealt with. It is important to recognise that the changes I put in place in December have had an immediate effect; within six weeks of making the changes we had offered more in terms of payout and compensation payments than were made in the first 19 months of the scheme. I say openly to the hon. Gentleman and all Members of the House who have constituents who are awaiting claims: provide me with the details and I will look into those cases.

The fact of the matter is that we have been reaching out to those who are entitled to compensation. We are working across the board. We have overhauled the team; we have more caseworkers than ever. Another £9 million has been offered to claimants, and we are awaiting responses from those individuals.

“Sitting in Limbo”—a drama about my constituent Anthony Bryan, who had his life turned upside down by the Windrush scandal—won a BAFTA yesterday. At the time of its release, the Home Secretary rushed to meet Anthony and told him that he would be given a voice. Yet it was not until two days ago—18 months after he made his claim—that Anthony finally received an offer of compensation. Will the Home Secretary tell us how long the hundreds of others like Anthony will have to remain in limbo before the Home Office gets its act together?

If the hon. Lady heard my earlier remarks, she will have heard that fundamental reform of the Windrush compensation scheme has taken place. She will also recognise that when the scheme first launched, it was put together very quickly, but in consultation with members of the Windrush generation and representatives from the community. She asked me how long it takes for people to be paid. Due to the changes that I have put in place, it now takes an average of three weeks from receipt of an acceptance to payment. Finally, I am delighted to hear that the hon. Lady’s constituent has finally received the payment that he deserves.