PUBLISHED : February 13, 2024

WORDS : Archive Team

2023 marked the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Windrush, bringing with it the first significant group of migrants from the Caribbean.

The Windrush compensation scheme was set up in 2019 after it emerged that the Home Office had wrongfully denied British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, access to work, healthcare, and benefits. Some were threatened with deportation despite having the right to live in the UK.

The government promised to right the wrongs of what had happened, but the scheme has been repeatedly criticised for being too slow to compensate victims. As the fifth anniversary approached, official figures show dozens – including ten in the past six months – have died while awaiting a payout.

Unfortunately, more than 50 Windrush victims have died while waiting for compensation. Campaigners have called for the Windrush payout scheme to be improved after Rishi Sunak announced new compensation plans for victims of the Horizon IT scandal.

Justice4Windrush a campaigning organisation recently wrote an open letter to Rishi Sunak & Kier Starmer:

“If you don’t know the history, you don’t see the injustice. Invited by the government to help rebuild the country after the second world war, the Windrush generation answered the call. Decades later, this generation has been shut out and grossly mistreated by a disastrous government compensation scheme. Britain’s colonial history needs to be addressed and understood so that as a nation we can begin to heal and never let this happen again. We, the undersigned, call on the Government to appoint an independent neutral body to oversee the Windrush Compensation Scheme and to pledge delivery of full compensation to Windrush victims as part of its forthcoming general election manifesto.”

These are the facts:

  • When the Windrush Compensation Scheme was launched in April 2019, the Home Office estimated that around 15,000 people would be eligible for compensation.
  • As of January 2024, only 13.8% of those eligible had received any compensation.
  • As of April 2023, 1 in 6 applicants (16%) have been waiting for over a year for a result, with around half of these (7.5%) waiting for more than 18 months.
  • The Home Office has refused to give applicants legal aid – making the path to justice even more difficult.
  • Just £75.23 million of an allocated £200-500 million has been awarded to victims.

The Windrush generation’s contribution to our nation is undeniable, yet their treatment remains a stain on our collective conscience. As we reflect on their arrival’s 75th anniversary, let’s also commit to righting the wrongs they have faced. Advocate for an improved compensation scheme and for the appointment of an independent body to ensure justice is served without further delay. Learn more about how you can get involved and support the cause at Justice4Windrush.org