On 29 February 2024, the House of Lords will debate the following motion:

Baroness Benjamin (Liberal Democrat) to move that this House takes note of the Windrush scandal and the implementation and effectiveness of the Windrush compensation scheme.

1. Windrush scandal

1.1 Who are the Windrush generation?

Following the second world war, the British government sought to address labour shortages by facilitating the migration to the UK of individuals from its former colonies and member states of the Commonwealth.[1] The British Nationality Act 1948 created the status of “citizens of the UK and colonies”, granting individuals from these territories the right to reside and work in Britain.

In June 1948, HMT Empire Windrush arrived at the Port of Tilbury, carrying the first large group of these migrants. Records revealed that there were 1,027 people on board, with over 800 passengers listing their last country of residence as somewhere in the Caribbean. These individuals, along with others who arrived in the UK until 1973, are collectively known as the ‘Windrush generation’.

1.2 What was the Windrush scandal?

Under the Immigration Act 1971, foreign nationals that were “ordinarily resident” in the UK on 1 January 1973 (the date that the act came into force) were deemed to have “settled status” and given indefinite leave to remain.[2] However, many people were not issued with any documentation confirming their status, and the Home Office did not keep a register confirming these individuals’ status.

In late 2017, media coverage brought attention to individual cases of long-term UK residents facing hardship due to difficulties proving their lawful immigration status.[3] Subsequent reports highlighted instances of individuals losing their jobs and homes, in addition to access to healthcare and welfare benefits, such as pensions. In some cases, individuals were detained, threatened with deportation, removed from the UK or denied re-entry to the country following trips abroad.[4]

The exact number of people affected by the scandal remains unclear.[5]

1.3 How did the then government respond to the scandal?

On 16 April 2018, the then home secretary, Amber Rudd, apologised for the confusion and anxiety felt by the Windrush generation.[6] She also stated that she would meet with high commissioners of other Commonwealth countries to ascertain whether people had been deported.

The following day, then prime minister Theresa May apologised to the leaders of Caribbean countries in a meeting in Downing Street. Mrs May reportedly stated that she wanted to dispel a concern that the government was “in some sense clamping down on Commonwealth citizens, particularly those from the Caribbean”.[7]

On 23 April 2018, Amber Rudd outlined several actions the government was taking to address the issues faced by the Windrush generation.[8] These actions included:

  • Conducting reviews of historical Caribbean cases that the Home Office wrongly actioned for either deportation/removal or a compliant environment action.
  • Establishing a Windrush scheme to issue confirmation of status documents (and in some cases, the granting of British citizenship) free of charge for applicants. Further information on the Windrush scheme can be found in section 3 of this briefing.
  • Creating a Windrush taskforce to assist individuals who may be eligible under the Windrush scheme.
  • Establishing a Windrush compensation scheme. Information on the compensation scheme can be found in section 4.

2. Windrush lessons learned review

2.1 Background and findings

In June 2018, Wendy Williams, then HM Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, was appointed by the Home Office to conduct an independent review examining the events leading to the Windrush scandal, focusing on events from 2008 onwards.[9]

The government laid the review’s findings before Parliament in March 2020.[10] The review found that despite the scandal taking the Home Office by surprise, it was “foreseeable and avoidable”.[11] Ms Williams identified the policies and legislation on immigration and nationality of successive governments from the 1960s onwards as contributing factors of the scandal, stating that “those in power forgot about them [the Windrush generation] and their circumstances”. She argued that successive governments wanted to demonstrate that they were being “tough on immigration” by “tightening immigration control and passing laws”, which had created an expanded “hostile environment”, which was “done with a complete disregard for the Windrush generation”.

Further criticism was directed towards the Home Office.[12] The report noted that internal and external warnings were “simply not heeded by officials and ministers”, and that the department “was too slow to react” to media reports of members of the Windrush generation being affected by immigration control from 2017 onwards. Additionally, the review had identified “organisational factors” within the department which had created the “operating environment in which these mistakes could be made”. Examining whether the Home Office was “institutionally racist”, Ms Williams stated:

While I am unable to make a definitive finding of institutional racism within the department, I have serious concerns that these failings demonstrate an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation within the department, which is consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism.

The report outlined 30 recommendations for change and improvement at the department.[13] These recommendations were summarised into three key areas:

  • Acknowledgement: The Home Office needed to acknowledge the “wrong which had been done” to the Windrush generation.
  • Transparency: The department “must open itself up to greater scrutiny”.
  • Culture change: The department “must change its culture” to “recognise that migration and wider Home Office policy was about people and, whatever its objective, should be rooted in humanity”.

Specific recommendations included calling on the Home Office to publish a comprehensive improvement plan within six months of the review’s publication, anticipating that Ms Williams would conduct a follow-up review 18 months later.

2.2 Government response to the review’s findings

The then home secretary, Priti Patel, responded to the review’s findings in a statement in the House of Commons on 19 March 2020.[14] In her statement, Ms Patel apologised on behalf of successive governments:

Nothing I can say today will undo the pain, suffering and misery inflicted on the Windrush generation. What I can do is say that on behalf of this and successive governments, I am truly sorry for the actions that spanned decades. I am sorry that people’s trust has been betrayed. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the Home Office protects, supports and listens to every single part of the community it serves.[15]

Ms Patel also confirmed that her department would reflect on the recommendations, including those relating to compliant environment policies and cultural change. She also stated that the Home Office would publish a detailed formal response within six months, as recommended in the review.

In June 2020, Ms Patel made a further statement in the House of Commons.[16] She stated that she had accepted all 30 recommendations made by Wendy Williams:

The review was damning about the conduct of the Home Office and unequivocal about the “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the […] race and the history of the Windrush generation” by the department. There are serious and significant lessons for the Home Office to learn in the way it operates. The permanent secretary and I are currently reviewing its leadership, culture and practices, and the way it views and treats all parts of the community it serves.

These reforms are only the start. I was clear that when Wendy Williams published her lessons learned review, I would listen and act. I have heard what she has said, and I will be accepting the recommendations that she has made in full.[17]

In September 2020, the Home Office published its “comprehensive improvement plan” in response to the lessons learned review.[18] The plan grouped the review’s recommendations into five broad themes:

  • “righting the wrongs and learning from the past” by being “open-minded and willing to acknowledge, explore and put right our mistakes”
  • “a more compassionate approach” by ensuring that people are “put first” and that the department’s work “takes proper account of the complexity of citizens’ lives, so that it “make[s] the right decisions”
  • “inclusive and rigorous policymaking” by putting in place systems and support to enable staff at all levels to “make, evaluate and improve evidence-based policy that is thorough, rigorous, and promotes equality”
  • “openness to scrutiny” by becoming “more outward facing” and listening to and acting on the views of and challenges from staff and external stakeholders
  • “an inclusive workforce by promoting “greater diversity” in the department.[19]

Concluding, the department stated that through the work it was undertaking to “go beyond the recommendations and embrace the intent of the Windrush lessons learned review”, it wanted to achieve the following long-term objectives:

  • rebuilding and enhancing public confidence in the department’s operations
  • creating an environment whereby staff “feel safe to challenge” the department and ministers “feel supported”
  • being “continuously open” to external voices and ideas for improvement
  • ensuring that the workforce was “representative of wider society”
  • implementing “robust and fair” policies and case-working processes[20]

2.3 Follow-up review

In September 2021, Wendy Williams conducted an independent assessment of the progress made by the Home Office in implementing her recommendations and the department’s improvement plan.[21]

The Home Office published Ms Williams’ report in March 2022.[22] The report acknowledged the department’s efforts in addressing her recommendations, whilst emphasising the need for further progress to be made. Specifically, it highlighted some recommendations relating to external insight and scrutiny arrangements that remained unaddressed. This included recommendations which called on the government to appoint a migrants’ commissioner and to review the remit and role of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, which the report said were all “unmet”.[23] Concluding, Ms Williams stated that the department was “potentially poised to make the significant changes it needs to”. However, she said that it must “grasp the opportunity to implement more fundamental recommendations” on staff development, increased public engagement and improved transparency under external scrutiny.

2.4 Government response to the follow-up review and subsequent action to date

In a press release issued in response to the report in March 2022, Priti Patel and the then home office permanent secretary, Matthew Rycroft, welcomed the assessment.[24] Ms Patel stated that she was pleased with what the department had achieved in the last two years and that it had “already made significant progress”. Despite the progress made, Ms Patel said that there was more to do and that she “would not falter” in her commitment to “everyone who was affected by the Windrush scandal”. Priti Patel left the post of home secretary on 5 September 2022 and Suella Braverman was appointed to replace her.[25]

In January 2023, the then home secretary, Suella Braverman, announced that three of the review’s recommendations would not be implemented.[26] These recommendations were to:

  • run a programme of reconciliation events with members of the Windrush generation (recommendation 3)
  • introduce a migrants’ commissioner, who would be responsible for speaking up for migrants and those directly or indirectly affected by the system (recommendation 9)
  • review the remit and role of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (recommendation 10)

On the same day, Ms Braverman wrote to the chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, Diana Johnson, explaining why the government had decided against implementing the three recommendations.[27] Ms Braverman stated that:

Extensive consideration has been given to how to deliver these recommendations in appropriate and meaningful ways: ensuring that individuals have opportunities to tell their stories; amplifying the voices of individuals engaging with the immigration system; and driving scrutiny of the department. On reconciliation events specifically, on the balance of expert advice received on how to approach this incredibly sensitive subject, I am persuaded that there are more effective ways of engaging with those impacted.

She highlighted that the department had undertaken a “significant programme of face-to-face engagement” with communities impacted by the Windrush scandal since 2018. This included organising over 200 outreach events across the UK to raise awareness of the Windrush schemes, including 120 one-to-one surgeries attended by Windrush help teams to support individuals with their documentation applications.

Responding to the decision, Wendy Williams stated:

I am disappointed that the department has decided not to implement what I see as the crucial external scrutiny measures, namely my recommendations related to the migrants’ commissioner (recommendation 9) and the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (recommendation 10), as I believe they will raise the confidence of the Windrush community, but also help the department succeed as it works to protect the wider public, of whom the Windrush generation is such an important part.[28]

In June 2023, several media outlets reported that the unit tasked with reforming the Home Office after the Windrush scandal had been disbanded.[29] Speaking to the Guardian, a source at the department stated that they were “worried that it signals of rolling back from the commitments that we publicly made about not repeating those mistakes” and that if there was no team responsible for monitoring the department’s progress, “then the work won’t happen”. Responding to the reports, a spokesperson at the department stated that “there have been and will continue to be team changes as the Windrush response is delivered” and that the government was “honouring its Windrush commitments and providing support to those affected every day”.

3. Windrush scheme

3.1 Eligibility

Launched by the Home Office in May 2018, the Windrush scheme aims to support members of the Windrush generation by providing them with free documentation proving their right to live and work in the UK.[30] This applies to individuals who lack such documentation despite being settled in the country.

To be eligible for the scheme, an individual must meet one of the following criteria:

  • they came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973
  • their parents came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973
  • they came to the UK from any country before 31 December 1988 and were now settled in the UK

The precise documentation that an individual may be granted varies based on their circumstances.

3.2 Statistics

The Home Office reported that 16,709 people had been issued with documentation confirming their status or British citizenship up to the third quarter of 2023.[31] Figure 1 details the nationalities of claimants that have been granted documentation after applying to the scheme from within the UK:

Figure 1. Total number of claimants by nationality that had been granted documentation through the Windrush scheme from within the UK, up to the third quarter of 2023

Figure 1. Total number of claimants by nationality that had been granted documentation through the Windrush scheme from within the UK, up to the third quarter of 2023
(Source: Home Office, ‘Windrush schemes factsheet: December 2023’, 5 February 2024)

4. Windrush compensation scheme

4.1 Eligibility

In April 2019, following a consultation period, the government launched the Windrush compensation scheme.[32] This scheme provides financial support to individuals who incurred losses due to difficulties proving their legal immigration status in the UK. The scheme is not limited to those who came from the Caribbean.[33] Instead, it is open to:

  • individuals who arrived in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973
  • children or grandchildren of those who arrived from a Commonwealth country before 1973
  • individuals who arrived in the UK before 31 December 1988, and are now settled there
  • “close family members” of eligible individuals who experienced significant losses themselves
  • representatives of deceased individuals who would have been eligible for the scheme

Under the scheme, there are several types of compensation awards that a claimant can apply for.[34] These awards are paid for losses relating to:

  • banking
  • daily life, for example, missing major family events or being unable to travel
  • detention and removal
  • driving licences
  • employment
  • education
  • health
  • housing
  • immigration fees
  • living costs, such as rent, utilities, contributions towards food and household essentials, travel and prescription fees

Originally intended to close in April 2021, the scheme currently has no end date. The Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Act 2020 gives parliamentary authority for its funding. Before the act was passed, payments were authorised by a ministerial direction.[35]

4.2 Changes to the scheme

Since the compensation scheme launched in 2019, the government has implemented various changes to improve its accessibility and effectiveness.

In February 2020, the then government announced several changes to the compensation scheme.[36] These included:

  • Extended deadline: The application deadline was extended to April 2023, allowing more time for potential claimants to reach people who were not aware of the scheme.
  • Wider mitigation: The scheme considered a broader range of actions individuals took to address their immigration status or mitigate losses, potentially increasing eligibility and compensation amounts.
  • Independent advisor: A permanent independent advisor and a dedicated support organisation were established to assist claimants with the process.

Further changes, announced by the government in March 2020, focused on community support:

  • Windrush working group: The creation of a new working group which developed programmes specifically designed for those affected by the Windrush scandal.
  • Grassroots organisation fund: A £500,000 fund to support grassroots organisations promoting these programs and directly assisting affected individuals.

In December 2020, following a consultation with the Windrush working group, changes were announced to the Windrush compensation scheme.[37] As part of the changes, individuals would receive a minimum of £10,000 compensation through the ‘impact on life’ category once their claim had been approved. This was 40 times the minimum award that was then available (£250). Additionally, the then home secretary, Priti Patel, announced that she had “significantly increased payments at all levels” within the category with the maximum amount available rising from £10,000 to £100,000 for eligible cases, with “an option to get higher in exceptional circumstances”. These higher-level awards would be made once an individual’s whole application had been assessed.

In July 2021, Ms Patel announced further changes to the scheme.[38] These updates included:

  • the removal of the end date for the scheme
  • improvements aimed at simplifying the application process, such as changes to the primary claim form
  • the reimbursement of up to £1,500 towards legal advice that had been sought to apply for probate for making claims on behalf of a deceased relative

In a press release, Ms Patel stated:

Today I am removing the end date of the Windrush compensation scheme and announcing a new package of support to help bereaved families claim compensation more easily.

4.3 Statistics

The government provides quarterly updates to Parliament about the operation of the scheme. However, data on the total number of people who have received a compensation payment is not published.

On 5 February 2024, the Home Office published its latest data on the scheme. The data revealed that as of December 2020, the scheme had received 7,688 claims since its launch in April 2019.[39] The majority of these claims (4,877) were primary claims made directly from individuals affected by the scandal, followed by close family claims (1,802) and estate claims (1009).

The Home Office also provides a breakdown of claims by country of nationality. It revealed that 6,476 of the 7,688 claims came from claimants whose country of nationality was the UK. This was followed by those from Jamaica (491) and Nigeria (123). A breakdown of the 10 nationalities that submitted the highest number of claims to the scheme can be found in figure 2, below:

Figure 2. Breakdown of claims by the top ten countries of nationality, April 2019 to December 2023

Figure 2. Breakdown of claims by the top ten countries of nationality, April 2019 to December 2023
(Source: Home Office, ‘Windrush compensation scheme data: December 2023’, 5 February 2024, table WCS_08)

As at the end of December 2023, the Home Office reported that 2,097 claims had been paid, totalling £75.87mn. However, data on the total number of people who have received a compensation payment is not published.

Table 1. Cumulative number of claims receiving payment and the amount paid, period up to December 2023

Year ending Cumulative number of claims receiving payment Cumulative amount paid (£)
December 2019 36 62,198.18
December 2020 304 2,922,846.76
December 2021 941 35,457,332.31
December 2022 1,416 54,279,498.74
December 2023 2,097 75,873,061.27

(Source: Home Office, ‘Windrush compensation scheme data: December 2023’, 5 February 2024, table WCS_03)

In January 2024, the government said that it was aware that 53 claimants had passed away after submitting their claims.[40] It noted that, under such circumstances, the scheme’s team would continue working closely with the claimant’s appointed representative to “ensure the compensation payment is made as quickly as possible to the family member”.

5. Reviews of the compensation scheme

5.1 House of Commons Home Affairs Committee inquiry: November 2020

In November 2020, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the Windrush compensation scheme.[41] The inquiry focused on examining the scheme’s design and implementation, and support provided through its “support in exceptional circumstances” policy. This policy meant that individuals could be entitled to a payment ahead of applying for, or receiving, compensation.

The committee published its report in November 2021.[42] The report highlighted concerns regarding the scheme’s implementation, stating that the “vast majority” of applicants had “yet to receive a penny”.[43] The report also noted that the application process had “become a source of further trauma rather than redress”, with others having been discouraged from applying. Additionally, the committee expressed that it was “deeply concerned” that as of the end of September 2021, only 20.1 percent of the initially estimated 15,000 eligible claimants applied to the scheme, with only 5.8 percent having received compensation.

The report detailed a “litany of flaws” in the design and operation of the scheme. These included:

  • the “excessive burden” placed on claimants to provide documentary evidence of the losses they suffered
  • long delays in processing applications and making payments
  • inadequate staffing of the scheme

The report concluded that it was a “damning indictment” of the Home Office that the design and operation of the scheme “contained the same bureaucratic insensitivities that led to the Windrush scandal”. The committee argued that this suggested that the “culture change promised in the wake of the scandal has not yet occurred”.[44] Therefore, it proposed several recommendations, including calling on Wendy Williams to incorporate the scheme’s evaluation as part of her review on the Home Office’s progress on her recommendations and transferring the scheme to an independent organisation “in order to increase trust and encourage more applicants”.

The government published its response to the committee in February 2022.[45] The response highlighted changes made to the scheme in December 2020, noting that they had “an immediate beneficial impact” on the amount paid out. The government noted that within six weeks it had offered more than it had in the previous 19 months of the scheme.[46] It also acknowledged Ms Williams’ review of the Home Office’s progress regarding the scheme and stated the intention to consider any further recommendations upon the report’s publication.

The government rejected the committee’s recommendation to transfer the scheme to an independent organisation, citing potential delays and increased hardship for applicants, and stating that only the Home Office could establish immigration status and eligibility.[47]. The response also outlined existing external oversight through the Adjudicator’s Office and announced the appointment of Professor Martin Levermore as the new independent person to advise on the scheme.

5.2 National Audit Office investigation: January 2021

In January 2021, the National Audit Office (NAO) began an investigation into the establishment and administration of the scheme and the progress it had made in implementing the government’s changes from 2020.[48]

The NAO published its findings in May 2021. The NAO’s findings revealed that it took, on average, 154 staff hours to process a case through to payment approval, which was “considerably longer than the department estimated [30 staff hours]”. This included applications going through 15 steps before payment to claimants was approved.[49] Despite this, it noted that the Home Office had outlined its intention to speed up its claims processing “in the next few months”. The NAO also stated that its analysis found that, of the cases that were subject to a quality assurance check, half needed to return to a caseworker for further work, which indicated that “cases often contained errors”.

Concluding, the NAO acknowledged that the Home Office recognised that the compensation scheme was an “important part of its response in righting the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation”.[50] However, it had started receiving applications for the scheme “before it was ready” and was “not meeting its objectives of compensating claimants quickly” until it had started making changes to the scheme in December 2020. Therefore, it called on the department to “sustain its efforts” to improve its casework operations and management systems to “ensure it fairly compensates members of the Windrush generation in acknowledgement of the suffering it has caused them”.

5.3 Independent person reports on the compensation scheme: March 2022 to November 2023

As part of his remit, Martin Levermore has been tasked with reporting to the home secretary on the scheme’s operation, policy and effectiveness.[51]

In March 2022, Mr Levermore published his first report on the scheme’s oversight and performance. He acknowledged the criticism received from various people and groups regarding the scheme’s approach, including concerns about its complexity and the burden on claimants.[52] Despite this, he noted that the government’s reform of the scheme in 2020 had been “welcomed”. This included changes to the minimum award amount, the introduction of preliminary payments, and the removal of the scheme’s end date.

Mr Levermore also noted that whilst the scheme “appear[ed] to be reaching across British Commonwealth nationals that have been affected by the Windrush scandal”, there was “still more to be done”.[53] He suggested that better data capture would provide improved intelligence. Concluding, Mr Levermore stated that whilst there were some “structural weaknesses” in the scheme, he had observed that the department was “diligently working to refine processes” that would “lead to greater efficiency and productivity”. To improve processes in the department, he made several recommendations, including calling for “clearer linkage” between the Windrush scheme and the compensation scheme. He argued that this would reduce “administrative lags”, remove “documentation fatigue” by claimants and improve overall confidence and trust among stakeholders.

In May 2023, Martin Levermore published his second report on the Windrush compensation scheme. The report assessed progress since his initial assessment in 2022.[54] He noted that improvements to the scheme, including the deployment of increased numbers of trained caseworkers, had resulted in the total amount paid or offered to claimants through the scheme increasing to over £64.08mn by the end of December 2022. Additionally, Mr Levermore observed that the Home Office continued to “diligently listen to all concerns and [take]  the appropriate guidance to make constructive improvements where possible”. However, the report identified the need for further progress regarding “a fair and restorative mechanism” for lost pension entitlements. Concluding, Mr Levermore acknowledged that the scheme remained “compliant” and was “meeting its objectives” but recommended the introduction of an electronic self-serve process for applicants. This would allow them to track application progress, receive updates, and submit evidence electronically.

Martin Levermore’s third report on the Windrush compensation scheme, published in November 2023, focused on his visit to Jamaica. The visit aimed to evaluate the Home Office’s efforts to make the scheme accessible and gain support from external stakeholders.[55]

The report highlighted a two-phased media campaign conducted in Jamaica between October 2022 and March 2023. Additionally, a dedicated local landline had been established to connect claimants to an independent specialist organisation to provide support to claimants to complete a claim form. He noted that the scheme had received 453 claims from claimants who stated their nationality as Jamaican. Whilst acknowledging that the local landline was a “welcome response”, the report indicated that it was “not widely known” and that “greater effort should be used to promote the number”. Furthermore, Mr Levermore emphasised the need for the Home Office, in collaboration with trusted partners, to establish a “continuous communications stream”.

6. Recent debate and oral questions on Windrush in the House of Lords

6.1 Debate

In July 2023, the House of Lords debated the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush generation. Moving the debate, Lord Murray of Blidworth, the then parliamentary under secretary of state for migration and borders, praised the Windrush generation, noting that they were “an essential part of our national story”.[56] He also stated that the “terrible injustices” that had come to light had “shocked the country to its core” and “should never have happened”. Therefore, he outlined the government’s determination to “right the wrongs” and highlighted some of the measures that the government had implemented ahead of the anniversary. This included funding a national Windrush monument at Waterloo Station and the schemes to provide compensation and documentation to the Windrush generation.

During the debate, Baroness Benjamin (Liberal Democrat) stated that when celebrating the 70th anniversary in 2018, “not many people knew what Windrush meant”, which showed that progress was being made. She asked the minister what the government was doing to further encourage the teaching of the Windrush experience in schools.[57] She also raised concerns regarding the compensation scheme, including application forms being complex, a backlog of compensation cases and many people too scared to approach the Home Office to apply, warning that “drastic measures” were needed to bring back trust in the department. Therefore, she called on the government to either establish an independent body to oversee the compensation scheme or to consider an “amnesty” and “pay claimants in full without the need for the traumatic, stressful and painful application process that victims have to go through”.[58]

Responding, Baroness Scott of Bybrook, a parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said that the government was providing new educational resources on the national monument’s website and had collaborated with the educational charity Speakers for Schools to organise a series of school talks by “inspirational public figures with Windrush connections”, which were available in person and online.[59] Discussing the compensation scheme, she stated that the Home Office “firmly believe[d]” that moving the operation of the scheme to an independent body would “significantly delay” payments to people affected by the scandal. She also said that the department had published new claims forms in 2021–22, in collaboration with stakeholders, which were “in plain English” and had “much more targeted and simpler questions for people to understand and complete”.

6.2 Oral questions

In November 2023, Lord Davies of Brixton (Labour) asked the government what the reasons for the Home Office’s decision were to disband the team responsible for Windrush policy at the department and what assessment had they made of the likelihood that the decision would “undermine their commitments” to the Windrush generation.[60] Responding on behalf of the government, Lord Sharpe of Epsom, a parliamentary under secretary of state at the Home Office, said that given the “significant progress” the department had made since 2020, its response to the lessons learned review had been “embedded into everyday activities”. He stated that an “embedded approach” would “better sustain the improvements made so far, and thereby our commitments to the Windrush generation and their descendants”. Additionally, he noted that the teams working on the Windrush scheme and compensation schemes would “remain in place”, with there being “no plans to close either scheme”.

On 7 February 2024, Vicky Foxcroft (Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford) asked Laura Farris, a parliamentary under secretary of state at the Home Office, what discussions she had with the secretary of state on the time taken to process claims to the Windrush compensation scheme.[61] Responding, Ms Farris stated that 91 percent of all claims had received a final decision or were less than six months old, as of December 2023. She also stated that the scheme had reduced the time taken to allocate a casework decision from 18 months to “less than four months”.

7. Read more

Cover image from Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Windrush Commemoration Committee and Kemi Badenoch MP, OGL, on Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Lisa Berry-Waite, ‘An iconic and treasured record: The Empire Windrush passenger list’, National Archives, 6 June 2023. Return to text
  2. Home Office, ‘Windrush scheme casework guidance (accessible)’, updated 24 October 2023. Return to text
  3. Amelia Gentleman, ‘‘I can’t eat or sleep’: The woman threatened with deportation after 50 years in Britain’, Guardian, 28 November 2017. Return to text
  4. BBC News, ‘Anger as ‘Windrush generation’ face deportation threat’, 11 April 2018; and ‘How the Windrush scandal led to fall of Amber Rudd: Timeline’, Guardian, 30 April 2018. Return to text
  5. Pamela Duncan et al, ‘Windrush 75th anniversary: The arrivals from the Caribbean who helped reshape Britain’, Guardian, 23 June 2023. Return to text
  6. HC Hansard, 16 April 2018, col 27. Return to text
  7. Lizzy Buchan, ‘Theresa May apologises to Windrush children and Caribbean leaders over deportation scandal’, Independent, 17 April 2018. Return to text
  8. HC Hansard, 23 April 2018, cols 619–41. Return to text
  9. Jim Dunton, ‘Javid appoints police watchdog to lead Windrush review’, Civil Service World, 22 June 2018. Return to text
  10. Home Office, ‘Windrush lessons learned review: Independent review by Wendy Williams’, March 2020. Return to text
  11. As above, p 7. Return to text
  12. As above. Return to text
  13. As above. Return to text
  14. HC Hansard, 19 March 2020, cols 1154–68. Return to text
  15. HC Hansard, 19 March 2020, col 1155. Return to text
  16. HC Hansard, 23 June 2020, cols 1193–1213. Return to text
  17. HC Hansard, 23 June 2020, col 1193. Return to text
  18. HM Government, ‘The response to the Windrush lessons learned review: A comprehensive improvement plan’, September 2020, CP 293. Return to text
  19. As above, pp 7–12. Return to text
  20. As above, p 12. Return to text
  21. Home Office, ‘Windrush lessons learned review: Progress update’, 31 March 2022 Return to text
  22. Home Office, ‘Windrush lessons learned review progress update: Independent report by Wendy Williams’, March 2022. Return to text
  23. As above, p 10. Return to text
  24. Home Office, ‘Windrush lessons learned progress update’, 31 March 2022. Return to text
  25. BBC News, ‘Liz Truss: New prime minister installs allies in key cabinet roles’, 7 September 2022. Return to text
  26. House of Commons, ‘Written statement: Update on the Windrush lessons learned review recommendations (HCWS523)’, 26 January 2023. Return to text
  27. Home Office, ‘Letter from the home secretary to Diana Johnson, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, on progress on the Windrush lessons learned review (WLLR) recommendations,’, 26 January 2023. Return to text
  28. Patrick Daly, ‘Suella Braverman ditching Windrush reform is ‘slap in the face’ for victims’, Independent, 26 January 2023. Return to text
  29. Amelia Gentleman, ‘Unit tasked with reforming Home Office after Windrush scandal being disbanded’, Guardian, 19 June 2023. Return to text
  30. Home Office, ‘Windrush scheme: Get a document showing your right to be in the UK’, accessed 13 February 2024. Return to text
  31. Home Office, ‘Windrush schemes factsheet: December 2023’, 5 February 2024. Return to text
  32. Home Office, ‘Windrush compensation scheme: Full rules’, updated 24 October 2023. Return to text
  33. As above, pp 5–6. Return to text
  34. As above, pp 10–11. Return to text
  35. Home Office, ‘Letter from the home secretary to the permanent secretary on the Windrush scheme and Windrush compensation scheme’, 4 July 2019. Return to text
  36. Home Office, ‘Letter from Kevin Foster MP to Yvette Cooper MP regarding changes to the Windrush compensation scheme’, 6 February 2020, DEP2020-0051. Return to text
  37. Home Office, ‘Windrush compensation scheme overhauled’, 14 December 2020. Return to text
  38. Home Office, ‘Windrush compensation scheme end date removed’, 21 July 2021. Return to text
  39. Home Office, ‘Windrush compensation scheme data: December 2023’, 5 February 2024, table WCS_01. Return to text
  40. House of Commons, ‘Written question: Windrush compensation scheme (9349)’, 17 January 2024. Return to text
  41. House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, ‘New inquiry: The Windrush compensation scheme’, 19 November 2020. Return to text
  42. House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, ‘The Windrush compensation scheme’, 24 November 2021, HC 204 of session 2021–22. Return to text
  43. As above, p 3. Return to text
  44. As above, p 88. Return to text
  45. House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, ‘The Windrush compensation scheme: Government response to the committee’s fifth report’, 7 February 2022, HC 1098 of session 2021–22. Return to text
  46. As above, p 1. Return to text
  47. As above, p 2. Return to text
  48. National Audit Office, ‘Investigation into the Windrush compensation scheme’, 21 May 2021. Return to text
  49. As above, p 9. Return to text
  50. As above, p 10. Return to text
  51. Home Office, ‘Independent person report on the Windrush compensation scheme’, updated 1 November 2023. Return to text
  52. Home Office, ‘Independent person report on the Windrush compensation scheme oversight and performance’, updated 1 November 2023. Return to text
  53. As above. Return to text
  54. Home Office, ‘Second independent person report on the Windrush compensation scheme: Oversight and performance one year on’, updated 1 November 2023. Return to text
  55. Home Office, ‘Third independent person report on the Windrush compensation scheme: How the Home Office is doing on international engagement, a Jamaica perspective’, updated 1 November 2023. Return to text
  56. HL Hansard, 7 July 2023, col 1434–5. Return to text
  57. HL Hansard, 7 July 2023, col 1438. Return to text
  58. HL Hansard, 7 July 2023, col 1439. Return to text
  59. HL Hansard, 7 July 2023, cols 1457–8. Return to text
  60. Oral question on ‘Windrush generation’, HL Hansard, 28 November 2023, cols 1009–12. Return to text
  61. Oral question on ‘Windrush compensation scheme’, HC Hansard, 7 February 2024, cols 232–4. Return to text