The British Government has established a scheme to compensate members of the Windrush Generation who were unable to prove their right to live in the United Kingdom (UK).
The compensation scheme was announced in London by Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.
It will provide payments to eligible individuals who did not have the right documentation to prove their status in the UK and suffered adverse effects on their life as a result.
These could range from a loss of employment, access to housing, education, or National Health Service (NHS) healthcare; to emotional distress or deterioration in mental and physical health.
The compensation scheme is open to anyone from any nationality who has the right to live or work in the UK without any restrictions or is now a British citizen, and arrived in the UK before December 31, 1988. It is also open to anyone from a Commonwealth country who arrived and settled in the UK before 1973.
Certain children and grandchildren of those arriving before 1973 and some close family members may also be eligible to apply. People who were wrongfully detained or removed from the UK could also be able to make a claim.
British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad, in providing further details during a press conference at the High Commission in St. Andrew on Wednesday (April 3), said that “no amount of money can undo the injustice, or the pain or damage… to individuals and their families”.
“But this goes, someway, towards redressing those considerations. But I hope that what will accompany the compensation… will be a formal UK government apology to the victims concerned,” he added.
High Commissioner Ahmad said that with the help of the Jamaican government, the UK has been able to track down “a huge number of people, and some 3,600 have actually had their British citizenship afforded to them”.
“So, they haven’t had to wait for many months for that important step to be taken. Our offices here have been processing visas for people who have been deemed to be eligible to return to the United Kingdom. There is a steady flow of those going on over the last few months,” he noted.
There are a number of categories of claim. These include loss of access to services (education, healthcare); denial of access to employment and/or benefits; refund of fees for certain immigration applications; compensation for detention, deportation or removal; and impact on normal daily lives.
Close family members are also eligible to claim in certain categories if they suffered a direct loss, as are representatives of estates of eligible deceased individuals.
The High Commissioner informed that the claim process will be open for two years.
“What is unique about this compensation scheme is that it is not budget-limited. As the Home Secretary said, although he has a ballpark figure of how much the exercise is likely to cost, which is £200 million, that is not the ceiling… . If it is more than that, [then that] is what the government will provide,” he pointed out.
The Windrush helpline will be open to receive calls from claimants, explain the compensation scheme and provide advice and guidance. The helpline number is +44 (0) 800-678-1925 and persons may call from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
“My request to people in Jamaica, the Caribbean and anywhere else outside the UK is to perhaps deal with this better through email,” the High Commissioner said.
The email address is WindrushCompensationScheme@homeoffice.gov.uk. Persons in Jamaica can email and request a call-back.
The Windrush Generation refers to the immigrants who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Jamaica and other Caribbean countries to address labour shortages.
Many of them had arrived as children on their parents’ passports, and although they have lived in Britain for many decades, they never formally became British citizens.
Amid the tightening of the immigration rules, thousands of persons were being denied services, losing their jobs, facing deportation, among other problems.
Last April, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May apologised to 12 Caribbean nations for the treatment of the Windrush Generation in the UK.
In addition, the Home Secretary established the Windrush Taskforce, which has helped over 3,600 people secure British citizenship.