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On 6 May 2020, the House of Lords is due to hold a debate on the Windrush compensation scheme.

In late 2017, the Guardian published a series of articles drawing attention to certain immigration cases. They highlighted the cases of longstanding UK residents who were facing deportation because of difficulties proving their lawful immigration status. Over the following months, continued coverage told stories of individuals who had lost jobs and homes, as well as their access to healthcare and the welfare state, because of these issues. The group affected is often referred to as the Windrush generation, and as a result the problem became known as the Windrush scandal.

In April 2018, the Government acknowledged that members of the Windrush generation, and other Commonwealth citizens, had been treated unfairly. To address the issues, in April 2019 it announced the Windrush compensation scheme in addition to other actions. The Government announced several changes to the scheme in February and March this year.

The scheme will be funded under provisions of the Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill, which completed its parliamentary stages on 21 April 2020 and is currently waiting royal assent. Until the bill becomes law, a ministerial direction is providing authority for payments.

Opposition parties have welcomed the idea of compensation for Windrush victims. However, some MPs and Peers have argued the scheme has several problems. In addition, both the Guardian and compensation recipients have been critical. Issues raised include:

  • ownership of the scheme;
  • application process and burden of proof; and
  • delays in payments and amounts awarded.

In March 2020, Wendy Williams published her independent Windrush Lessons Learned Review. The Home Office commissioned the review to provide an independent assessment of the events leading up to the Windrush scandal (particularly from 2008 to March 2018) and identify key lessons for the department. She found that despite the Home Office being taken by surprise, Windrush was “foreseeable and avoidable”. Wendy Williams made 30 recommendations.

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