Members of the Windrush generation who were unable to prove their right to live in the United Kingdom and suffered adverse effects on their lives as a result will now be entitled to apply for compensation from the government.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid announced that the government will pay an estimated £200 million (US$263 million) in compensation to people whose lives were wrongly targeted by the “hostile environment policies” that mistakenly classified them as illegal immigrants, The Guardian reports.
Thousands of the Windrush generation, the generation that arrived in the UK before 1973, have been wrongly targeted as being in the UK illegally and as a result lost the right to work, ability to rent property or seek healthcare.
Last year, the government admitted that its treatment of the Windrush generation had been “appalling” and said it will reform its immigration system and pay compensation to those affected.
Officials believe the Windrush Compensation Scheme is the latest step in the government’s commitment to right the wrongs experienced by victims of the Windrush scandal.
“Nothing we say or do will ever wipe away the hurt, the trauma, the loss that should never have been suffered by the men and women of the Windrush generation, but together we can begin to right the wrongs of Windrush,” Javid said.
The total number of those affected by the Windrush scandal is not known, but a Windrush Taskforce that was established last April has helped over 3,600 people secure British citizenship.
There would be no cap on the compensation scheme which was put together after consultation with those affected and guided by the advice of Martin Ford QC. In other words, it is impossible to estimate how much money will eventually be paid to victims of the Windrush scandal, the home secretary said.
“There is no cap on the scheme, so no one knows what the eventual cost will be. It will be based on people’s needs and the claims that are made by eligible people, but the baseline estimate from my Department is that it will be approximately £200 million,” Javis said.
Who can apply for the scheme?
A statement from Gov.UK said the 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 31 December 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, the statement said
People who were wrongfully detained or removed from the UK could also be able to make a claim. The Home Office will also refund fees paid for certain immigration applications that were unsuccessful, and reimburse certain associated legal costs that were incurred.
The Windrush generation
Since 1948, the mass exodus of Afro-Caribbean peoples to the United Kingdom occurred. Due to the casualties of war, more inhabitants of the Caribbean were encouraged to migrate to countries under British jurisdiction. Out of this was born the Windrush generation.
They were named Windrush in commemoration of the Empire Windrush, the ship that transported them to the UK.
The immigrants were to serve as a buffer for the loss of life during World War II. The British Nationality 1948 enabled British citizenship to all individuals living in the UK and its colonies.
The 1971 Immigration Act gave citizens of the Windrush generation permission to stay in the UK indefinitely. Descendants were granted the right to emigrate to the UK as long as they acquired a work permit and could prove a parent or grandparent was born in the UK. There was no record kept of how many individuals came and settled.
Recently, some who arrived on the behalf of their parent, siblings, or grandparent’s passports were told that they aren’t legal residents of the UK.
In 2012, new rules were imposed by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May when she was the Home Secretary. May formed the new laws as a tactic to ensure only citizens could access the National Health Service and the welfare program, as reported by BBC.
Scores of citizens have lost their jobs and health insurance despite paying taxes. In addition, they are being threatened with deportation, The Guardian documents.
“This has resulted in some people, through no fault of their own, now needing to be able to evidence their immigration status,” May explained.
“Those who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973 and lived here permanently without significant periods of time away in the last 30 years have the right to remain in the UK,” May emphasized.
Some members of the Windrush generation, who have lived in the UK for over 50 years, raised concern over their right to remain because they could not provide the Home Office with the right immigration papers.
One of those caught who was caught up in the scandal was Glenda Caesar. In an interview with the BBC, she said she lost her job as a NHS nurse because she no longer had a British passport to prove her identity.
When asked what she hopes to receive from the Home Office compensation scheme, she said: “Validate my loss of earnings, validate the emotional distress I’ve had to go through. I’m asking for not millions… but look at what I was earning, my pension – 10 years of my pension I lost as well – validate that.”