The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has launched a free legal advice initiative in collaboration with eight leading law firms in response to consistently low numbers of applications for the UK government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme, compounded by a lack of legal support in navigating the complex application process.
- 83% of individuals estimated to be eligible to claim under the UK government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme are yet to make an application; fewer than 2,000 claims have been made under the scheme since created two years ago.
- Only £6.1 million has been paid out under the scheme, out of the estimated £500 million total expected.
- Minimum awards for impact on life have increased from £250 to £10,000 – paid as a new early preliminary payment as soon as someone applying can show any impact on their life under the terms of the Scheme. They do not need to wait for their whole application to be assessed.
- The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants’ free legal advice initiative, supported by a panel of eight leading law firms, addresses serious concerns over lack of legal support for applicants, one year on from the Windrush Lessons Learned Independent Review.
Visit the JCWI website here
The Windrush Compensation Scheme was set up in 2019 following the Windrush scandal, which broke in 2018 when it emerged that despite living and working in the UK for decades – having been invited to the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 – many of the ‘Windrush generation’ and their family members, including children and grandchildren, were told that they were illegally living in the UK and were wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights. Under the scheme those affected by the Windrush scandal can apply for compensation for the significant detrimental impact it’s had on their lives. Many had lost homes and jobs, as well as being denied access to healthcare and benefits. In December of last year, the government overhauled the scheme, raising the minimum amount of compensation for victims to £10,000 compensation.
Two years on from its launch, only 1,996 claims have been made under the scheme. The government estimates that more than 12,000 individuals are eligible, so this represents at most 17% with 83% yet to make an application. The value of all payments made through the scheme stands at £6.1 million; however, this is only a fraction of the estimated £500 million total expected to be paid out under the scheme. The scheme was due to close to claims in April 2021, but on 6 February 2020, the Home Office announced that they were extending the duration of the scheme by two years.
As highlighted in the Windrush Lessons Learned Independent Review, not only is there a lack of awareness of the scheme resulting in the low numbers of applications but there are also serious concerns surrounding the lack of legal support available for the applicants, exacerbated by the fact that legal fees can only be claimed for some applications. The JCWI initiative has been established to assist individuals affected by the Windrush scandal in submitting their applications, assessing the resulting decision and appealing it if necessary.
The initiative is supported by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Charles Russell Speechlys, Debevoise & Plimpton, Dechert, Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, Taylor Wessing and White & Case.
Quote from Nicola Burgess, Legal Director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants:
“Two years on from the introduction of the Windrush Compensation scheme, it is woefully inadequate that so few people have been able to apply for compensation. The Home Office promised that the people affected would have justice, but they continue to be failed by the government. The scheme is designed in a way which bars them from the support they are entitled to and deserve. We hope that this initiative goes some way to support the Windrush generation, but it’s clear that victims need legal aid and system which works in their favour, not against them.”