Windrush compensation scheme must be sufficient, simple, reasonable and transparent
Responding to today’s announcement from the Home Secretary about the Windrush Compensation Scheme, Cllr Carole Williams, who last August tabled a Council Motion calling for more support for victims of the Windrush scandal, an independent inquiry and an end to ‘Hostile Environment’ policies, and in October led on the Council’s submission to the compensation scheme consultation, said:
Though it has taken far too long to get to this stage, it is reassuring that the Windrush compensation scheme appears to have no cap, and right that the Home Secretary is talking in terms of aiming to "right the wrongs" of a "terrible mistake that should never have happened”. It is also welcome that eligibility has been extended and will be open to those from other Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries as we know there are many such people in Hackney who have been affected by the Home Office’s regressive policies.
“What happened under the watch of the current Prime Minister, and was exposed under the previous Home Secretary, was an appalling abuse of the rights of people who were subject to, as the current Home Secretary said himself, "unacceptable treatment".
“This scheme must now be demonstrably sufficient to fully compensate those who have lost their homes, their jobs, battled with serious health issues, were wrongly deported, or suffered a range of other stresses brought on by inhumane treatment at the hands of the Home Office.
“It needs to be simple and straightforward, with no complex web of bureaucracy to act as a barrier for people to access the redress they are entitled to, and with support, including legal aid, for those who need it. The threshold for evidencing losses must be reasonable, and not so high as to be impossible for most people to meet. We also need complete transparency on the particularly subjective allocation decisions made on issues such as claimants with a criminal record. We now need clarity as soon as possible on the timescales for what happens next and the application process.
What still remains to be addressed is the Government’s regressive ‘Hostile Environment’ approach to immigration in general. Policies to make life difficult for migrants is impacting on many communities and increasing discrimination in access to services, housing, jobs and wider participation in our communities. There are also many highly skilled migrants who are increasingly being asked to meet stringent tests to remain in the UK.
“Current immigration policies are threatening community cohesion and economic growth in culturally diverse boroughs such as Hackney. There are also concerns for the estimated 41,100 Hackney residents with EU citizenship, who might face similar challenges in years to come if they do not apply for settled status and lose their documents or fall on hard times. The Government needs to guarantee the rights of all EU citizens now and end this uncertainty.
“The Immigration Act 2014 needs to be overhauled to stop any further travesties such as Windrush, as well as more general negative societal and economic issues. I echo the widespread calls for the Government to launch an independent inquiry into the Windrush scandal to ascertain what went wrong, who was responsible, how we can ensure something similar won’t happen again, and demonstrate clearly to the communities affected that the Government knows this was unacceptable.