In 2018, the government promised redress for members of the Windrush generation who were called illegal immigrants by the Home Office. However, according to recent findings from The Guardian, only one in four individuals who applied to the Windrush compensation scheme have received payments since making claims. The delay in payouts suggests a laissez-faire approach to resolving issues, and around 285 people have died before receiving compensation.
In an interview with Voice Magazine, Labour MP Dame Meg Hillier describes the process of receiving compensation as ‘painfully slow,’ remarking that in many ways, the Home Office is too late to help those who have ‘suffered egregiously.’
A recent story emerged of a man named Hubert Howard who travelled to the UK in 1960 and who was failed by the Home Office. At last week’s hearing, Lord Justice Underhill said ‘Like many others in the Windrush generation, Mr Howard suffered serious problems … (including) being unable to obtain formal documentation of his immigration status.’ Underhill added that in 2012, immigration officers left Mr Howard unemployed, so he was unable to work as a caretaker.
He was also denied British citizenship by the Home Office in 2018 for not passing the ‘good character’ statutory requirement – he was not granted citizenship until three weeks before his death in 2019. Since then, Mr Howard’s family have received compensation.
His death echoes the view that Labour MPs hold about the scandal transcending issues surrounding finances. Referencing individuals who have suffered from inaccessible healthcare, racism and a loss of self-respect, Hillier describes the knock-on effects of the scandal as ‘immense.’
‘The compensation scheme is not just about redress for the physical things you have lost or the money you have lost,’ she says. ‘Actually, you need to redress for stress’ that comes with applying for compensation. She adds that ‘the Home Office can never really compensate for distress and humiliation.’
Hillier also claims that speculation about what these individuals are experiencing is not an accurate snapshot of their reality; they have experienced racism and alienation for more than half a century and 'these are memories needed to be kept alive.’Moreover, she hopes that the British public will acknowledge that issues surrounding the scandal are affecting families of the Windrush generation who are naturally concerned about their parents suffering from deportation and unemployment.
The Labour MP suggests that other ways to improve lives of Windrush migrants is via the history curriculum diversifying and the Home Office increasing diversity in its staffing.