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Windrush Compensation Scheme

Volume 707: debated on Monday 17 January 2022

We take our commitments to the victims of the Windrush scandal seriously, and our focus is on resolving claims as quickly as possible. To enable us to do that, we have recruited 40 new caseworkers, with 35 more in the pipeline for the coming months. We have also refreshed and streamlined internal processes to reduce processing times and improve user experience for those applying to the scheme.

A recent report criticised the Home Office, which was forced to apologise to charities and community groups that were meant to be supporting victims with their applications. The budget remains as full as ever and underspent. It took two years for one of my constituents to receive a reply, which is an absolute disgrace considering the age profile of Windrush victims. What will the Minister do to put that right? Will he outsource the process to a proper independent group that will get on with the job?

As we have said before, outsourcing would merely introduce further delays into the process when our focus should be on getting compensation out to the victims of the Windrush scandal. The hon. Member will be aware that the changes we made in December 2020 saw us pay considerably more compensation, offering an average of £3.1 million a month, with more than £38.7 million in compensation now offered. To be clear, there is no “budget” here; we will pay the compensation that is due to people, and there is no ceiling on what will be paid.

I remind the Home Secretary of the legal maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” This Government promised to try to right some of the wrongs with the Windrush compensation scheme in a time-limited manner. In November, the Home Affairs Committee found that only 20% of claimants had applied, and that only 5% had received any compensation. Twenty-three people have died before receiving their compensation. Is it not high time that the responsibility to provide justice to the ageing Windrush generation was passed on to an independent body capable of delivering it?

Again, we would make the point that moving this operation out of the Home Office would merely further delay the provision of the compensation that we all want to see paid. As I have touched on, we are recruiting more caseworkers and speeding up the process. Given the age cohort we are talking about, we are aware that some people have sadly passed away. However, that is why we are more motivated to speed up the process and make a real difference. As I have said, we have more staff coming in, and we will streamline the process to make it not only quicker, but simpler for those claiming compensation to engage with the team.