Many individuals of the Windrush generation have been forced into vulnerable financial situations in the United Kingdom, after long waits for compensation payouts they were promised over two years ago. Applicants to the Windrush compensation scheme have spoken out against the Home Office in the United Kingdom, many claiming that they’ve faced long waits for payments, with little other funds to rely on. Others have said that the repayments that they have received have done little to help them, with the amount not providing them with the compensation they felt they were promised. Many complaints have been filed against the Home Office team in charge of the Windrush repayments scheme, suggesting internal racism and discrimination.
Many applicants feel as though they have not been compensated for fees which they have paid throughout the scheme. From the beginning, there seemed to be issues with the application process for the Windrush Compensation scheme. The government website assured applicants that the application process would be an easy one, writing that “legal advice is not necessary in making a legal application”, and thus suggesting that individuals would not need to consult the assistance of immigration lawyers throughout the process. The legal system in the United Kingdom when it comes to immigration laws is notoriously very difficult to navigate, and it should be recommended that individuals who are not familiar with the system utilise the assistance of an immigration lawyer to help them in navigating the process. Stopping people from benefiting from this guidance may have set individuals up for unsuccessful applications to the scheme from the beginning.
The application process to the Windrush Compensation Scheme required individuals to gather and present much evidence to back their application, which the assistance of an immigration lawyer would greatly benefit. Documents such as a valid postal address, the signature of an identified individual and clear evidence of an offer of unemployment were amongst evidence requested by the Home Office as part of the application. For some applicants, much of this evidence may have been decades old and in some cases in different formats to what the Home Office requests, potentially making it difficult or near impossible for applicants to successfully gather all of the required information. This makes the application process extremely difficult for individuals to find success in, especially without legal guidance.
If applicants are successful in their application to the Windrush Compensation Scheme, the amount of compensation which individuals can receive differs greatly depending on the individual’s situation. After the application process, many have little way of knowing how much they will be entitled to receive. This has only added to the feeling of being failed by the scheme which many individuals are now experiencing.
Earler this year, the Windrush Head of Policy and former senior Home Office employee, Alexandra Ankrah, quit, stating that the scheme was “racist” and “unfit for purpose”. Ankrah reportedly lost confidence in the scheme, stating that it was “not supportive of people who have been victims” and “doesn’t acknowledge their trauma”. She also noted that many of the individuals working on the scheme within the Home Office were the same individuals who had previously worked to implement hostile environment policies within the United Kingdom, putting many in vulnerable positions.
Almost two years since its role out, the Windrush Compensation Scheme still seems to be having teething issues, with the entire process not running nearly as smoothly as the Home Office had previously alluded. Individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to get the compensation which they were promised, and which they deserve.