THE Windrush compensation scheme is continuing to fail victims of the scandal, with only a small minority of victims receiving financial compensation, according to a charity representing some of the people affected.
Thursday is the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush, when hundreds of women and men from the Caribbean arrived in London to fill labour shortages in the UK.
Churches across the country organised special services to mark the occasion, and some dioceses hosted bishops from the Caribbean.
The Windrush scandal of 2016 — in which thousands of people were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants, despite having been granted leave to remain — drove many into homelessness and destitution, as they were unable to access health care, work, and housing. Some were wrongly deported.
The human-rights charity Praxis has supported 20 people in claiming compensation under the scheme, but just three have been successful. The scheme has been beset with complaints about its failure to deliver compensation to victims; analysis by the Press Association this week showed that hundreds of cases had been in the system for at least 12 months.
Praxis’s data confirms official Home Office statistics, which indicate that fewer than half of those thought to be eligible have applied for compensation, and just 11 per cent have actually received compensation. Some of those surveyed by Praxis have not applied for compensation because they didn’t know they could, or didn’t know how to, the charity said.
Some of those being helped by Praxis were worried that, although they had experienced substantial losses as a result of the scandal, they did not have enough evidence to meet the Home Office’s high burden of proof.
One of those being helped by Praxis, Fitzroy Maynard, said: “They [the Home Office] should stop taking so long in processing claims — it feels that they have no intention to pay people their full due, and that they just want to wear us down. This is what is happening with me; after so many years, I am disheartened, but I am still going to fight.”
The Church has also had to apologise for its own treatment of Windrush immigrants. In 2020, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a public apology for the Church’s institutional racism towards them (News, 11 February 2020).
The diocese of Chichester hosted the Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay, in Jamaica, the Rt Revd Leon Golding, as part of its commemoration of the 75th anniversary, and the diocese of Manchester welcomed the Bishop of Guyana, the Rt Revd Charles Davidson.
Bishop Davidson preached the sermon at a service to mark the 75th anniversary at Manchester Cathedral, and also addressed the diocesan synod and visited a church school.