Last Wednesday the Home Secretary announced the launch of the Windrush Compensation Scheme. The Government deeply regrets what has happened to some members of the Windrush generation and the launch of the compensation scheme marks a key milestone in righting the wrongs they have experienced.
Detailed information about the compensation scheme, including the rules that govern the scheme, with the forms and guidance that people need to make a claim, are available online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/windrush-compensation-scheme. Our helpline is also open now on 0800 678 1925 for those wishing to receive printed copies of the claim form or for any other queries, this is free if calling from within the UK. Those calling from outside the UK will be called back.
I would like to clarify, further to questions raised with the Home Secretary on the floor of the House, three issues in relation to eligibility to apply for compensation. The first is in relation to those who are not resident in the UK. A Commonwealth citizen outside the UK, who was settled in the UK before 1 January 1973, who has settled status, right of abode or is now a British Citizen, or whose settled status has lapsed due to being absent from the UK for a period of 2 or more years is eligible to apply for compensation.
Second, the definition of a close family member for the purpose of the compensation scheme is a spouse or civil partner living with the claimant, cohabitee for continuous period of two years or more, a parent, a child or a sibling. Close family members are entitled to claim regardless of whether a primary claimant chooses to make an application and whether said claimant is deceased.
Thirdly, the definition of serious criminality for the purposes of the compensation scheme is defined as a conviction that received a sentence of imprisonment of four years or more, and that the offending was of such a nature that makes it inappropriate to make an award in whole or part. This provision does not apply to a conviction and sentence outside of the UK for conduct which on the date of the conviction was not an offence in the UK.
The Home Office is committed to raising awareness of the scheme, and to encouraging eligible people of all nationalities to submit a claim. Eligibility for compensation goes beyond members of the Caribbean Commonwealth, and we are putting in place a programme of events with key stakeholders, faith and community organisations to promote both the scheme and the wider work of the Commonwealth Citizens Taskforce. The first of such events is scheduled for Lambeth Town Hall on Friday 5 April and full details are available via the Gov.uk page.
Regrettably, in promoting the scheme via email to interested parties, an administrative error was made which has meant data protection requirements have not been met, for which the Home Office apologises unreservedly.
This occurred in emails sent to some of the individuals and organisations who had registered an interest in being kept informed about the launch of the compensation scheme, which included other recipients’ email addresses. Five batches of emails, each with 100 recipients, were affected. No other personal data was included.
A recall was commenced as soon as the problem had been identified. The Departmental Data Protection Officer has been informed and an internal review will be conducted to ensure this cannot happen again. The Department has voluntarily notified the Information Commissioner’s Office of the incident.
I am firmly committed to doing right by the Windrush generation. The compensation scheme is an important step towards that and I will ensure that action is taken to ensure the highest standards are met not only in the processing of cases, but also in continued efforts to publicise the scheme and ensure those entitled to redress receive it.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords