In an interview, former Home Office immigration minister Caroline Nokes has called the her former department's approach to immigration “inhuman”, “profoundly depressing” and at times “hideously wrong", warning it will only cause further problems that will end up costing the taxpayer more money. Nokes accused ministers of “paying lip service” to Wendy Williams’ Lessons Learned report on the Windrush scandal – which broke while she was in office – and said they were failing to put people at the heart of Home Office policy, as was recommended in the review. Commitments to change the Home Office following the Windrush scandal had been “torn up, disregarded and rendered clearly completely irrelevant” when making decisions about asylum seekers. Read the full interview.
A report today in the Independent states: "Windrush victims are yet to receive compensation despite the Home Office announcing last month that all eligible claimants would be granted a 'fast-tracked' payment." A letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel on 1 January, signed by 31 Windrush victims and claimants to the scheme says: “We are left with the hollow sense that the ‘overhaul’ you announced on 14 December – in the lead-up to Christmas – was no more than a publicity stunt. This is the same dynamic we have faced from the beginning: we are told that changes are coming, and we will hear soon; we wait for open-ended periods, suffering all the while, some among us dying while waiting; and we are ultimately presented with something far deficient to what was promised, and expected to be thankful for it.” So far nine Windrush victims have died while awaiting compensation.
Read the full article,
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) equalities watchdog has found in its "Assessment of hostile environment policies" that these policies that caused the Windrush scandal broke the law and are “a shameful stain on British history”. The damning report concludes that the Home Office failed in its “legal duties” towards black Britons, and that the harsh effects of the crackdown were “repeatedly ignored, dismissed, or their severity disregarded”. Ministers failed to listen properly to protests from members of the Windrush generation, “even as the severe effects of hostile environment policies began to emerge”. The EHRC said its findings endorsed the conclusion of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review that the experiences of victims of the scandal were “foreseeable and avoidable”.
The Windrush compensation scheme has paid just £1.6m to 196 people in 18 months when a bill of between £200m and £570m was expected. At least nine people have died before receiving the compensation they applied for. A black official helping to run the scheme resigned last week over “racism” and the government’s failure to help victims.
The EHRC concluded that the Home Office did not comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which requires all public authorities to consider how their decisions affect people protected under the Equality Act. Impact assessments were “often considered too late to form a meaningful part of many decision-making processes”. Exceptions to the PSED for immigration were “in many cases interpreted incorrectly or inconsistently, and there was a general lack of commitment within the Home Office to the importance of equality”.
Read more here and here. Download the report here.
On Windrush Day, the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, it has been revealed that the scheme set up in April 2019 to compensate the victims of the Windrush Scandal has, to date, only paid less than 5% of the claimants. It is now over 2 years since the scandal emerged – people who had lived and worked in the UK for many years losing jobs and benefits, and at least 164 held in detention centres, or deported.
Just like before, with having to prove their right to stay in Britain – the Home Office having destroyed landing cards and other records, “the burden is on the claimant to prove financial loss,” said Beri Nwosu, a solicitor and immigration specialist at Hackney Community Law Centre, adding that specific, “scientific” terminology used throughout the form made the application process extremely difficult.
Campaigner Patrick Vernon’s, whose parents were part of the Windrush generation, said: “It’s important that we remember the huge contribution the Windrush generation made to the UK, and Windrush Day helps us to do that. But it’s bittersweet, because the hostile environment policies that led to the scandal are still in place. People are still waiting for compensation and we’re still waiting for action on the Lessons Learned review.”
The application process Vernon says is "re-traumatising people who were traumatised in the first place by losing their homes, their jobs, their access to healthcare as a result of this scandal. We know of five people in the UK who have died in connection with the Windrush scandal, but we still don’t know what has happened to those who were deported to the Caribbean or Africa because the Home Office has made no effort to help. It has severely impacted their quality of life and wellbeing. The form itself was supposed to be simple and accessible, but people are having to employ solicitors to help them complete it which really defeats the object. The process itself is deterring people from even trying to apply.”
Read more here. A petition calling for government action has so far gained over 130,000 signatures. Add yours here.
In this article Afua Hirsch contends that immigration "has always been a byword for the problem of people who are racialised as undesirable, whether they were born here or not".
The Windrush brought less than 500 West Indians in 1948. In that same time period 200,000 eastern Europeans and 100,000 Irish immigrants also came to Britain, yet the former "remains such a symbol of profound soul searching for the national identity" and is regarded as "a turning point in the fabric of the nation’s identity". The latter is barely remembered at all.
Hirsch goes on to reference the area of South West London where she lives. It is known as the 'biltong belt' due to the high numbers of white South African, Australian and New Zealander immigrants. This had the same impact as immigration anywhere, yet "this immigration is never weaponised as a threat to the national heritage, or as a reason for pre-existing communities to flee. This immigration has been largely unproblematic because it is white, English-speaking and less visibly 'other'”.
In 1962 Home Secretary Rab Butler, said the Commonwealth Immigration Act was a law whose “restrictive effect is intended to, and would in fact, operate on coloured people almost exclusively”. Today’s governments are more subtle in their language, yet blatant examples of contemporary racism, such as the Windrush scandal, have "exposed a historical continuity that infects the entire immigration system."
"The sooner we acknowledge that legacy, and dispense with the fantasy that immigration has nothing to do with race, the sooner we will be able to consign this ongoing, abhorrent injustice to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.
Read the full article.
After publication of the 'lessons learned' report into the Windrush scandal, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has apologised in the House of Lords for the "wickedness" of the "terrible reception" given to members of the Windrush generation by the Church of England. "One of the historic failures of the Church of England, in many ways as bad as the 'hostile environment,' was the terrible reception we gave to the Windrush Britain generation, many of them Anglicans. As a result they went off and formed their own churches which have flourished much better than ours.We would have been so much stronger if we had behaved correctly." He said they were very often "turned away" or given a "very weak welcome or no welcome at all". Read more here.
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