The British government has only compensated 5% of the Windrush Generation in the past four years since the scandal was unearthed, according to reports.
In 2017, the Windrush scandal emerged after hundreds of long-standing UK and commonwealth residents—many of whom were of Black Caribbean origin—were unfairly and wrongly detained, stripped of their rights and faced deportation despite living in the UK for serval decades.
With the Windrush Generation arriving on Britain’s shores from the end of the Second World War to the early 1970s, many dubbed the scandal a nefarious form of institutional racism. The Home Affairs Select Committee indicates that up to 15,000 people qualified for the Home Office’s compensation scheme.
However, despite around 23 people dying before receiving reparations, only 3,022 people had applied for compensation, with a fractional 864 individuals actually receiving payment.
“No amount of compensation could ever repay the fear, humiliation, hurt and hardship that was caused to individuals who were affected,” The Home Office’s report stated. “That the design and operation of this scheme contained the same bureaucratic insensitivities that led to the Windrush scandal in the first place is a damning indictment of the Home Office and suggests that the culture change it promised in the wake of the scandal has not yet occurred.”
According to The Guardian, Jamaican-born Sylvester Marshall arrived in London as a teen in 1973 to accompany his then-NHS nurse mother. After working for 44 years, Marshall was denied free radiotherapy cancer treatment under the erroneous and unjust grounds he could not prove his UK residency. Marshall was given a £54,000 bill and was made homeless by the council, and has yet to receive his full financial settlement.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Coventry resident Johnny Samuels—a fellow survivor of the Windrush ordeal—who migrated to the UK in 1964. “After 55 years in the UK, working and doing positive good, then the Home Office letter arrived telling me I’m an illegal immigrant and giving me six weeks to leave the country,” Samuels told the BBC. “The embarrassment of being ordered to leave the country while at work is a stigma that doesn’t go away.”
After MPs demanded the matter be moved out of the Home Office’s hands, a spokesperson said: “Moving the scheme out of the department will risk significantly delaying vital payments to those affected. The home secretary and the department remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that members of the Windrush Generation receive every penny of compensation that they are entitled to.”
They added: “The Home Secretary overhauled the scheme in December to ensure more money is paid more quickly—since then, the amount of compensation paid has risen from less than £3m to over £31.6m, with a further £5.6m having been offered. There is no cap on the amount of compensation we will pay-out.”