A government compensation scheme set up for the victims of the Windrush scandal has seen just 5% of potential claimants awarded money due to a "litany of flaws", MPs have said.
The scheme was launched on 3 April 2019 to compensate members of the Windrush generation who were wrongly denied their lawful immigration status as a result of Home Office policies.
But the MPs found that, as of the end of September, only 20.1% of the initially estimated 15,000 eligible claimants had applied, just 5.8% had received any payment and 23 individuals had died without receiving compensation.
The cross-party Commons home affairs committee said the scheme, under Home Secretary Priti Patel, should be transferred to an independent organisation to increase trust and encourage more applications.
A report by the committee said the design of the scheme contained the same "bureaucratic insensitivities" that led to the Windrush scandal in the first place, which was a "damning indictment of the Home Office".
The committee added: "The treatment of the Windrush generation by successive governments and the Home Office was truly shameful.
"No amount of compensation could ever repay the fear, the humiliation and the hurt that was caused both to individuals and to communities affected."
Claimants face a "daunting application process", "unreasonable requests for evidence" and were "left in limbo in the midst of inordinate delays", the committee’s report said.
"Too often, injustice has been compounded rather than compensated," the MPs said. "This is unacceptable and must not continue."
Senior policy officer at race equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust, Alba Kapoor said: "These figures speak for themselves in highlighting the incompetence of the Home Office in addressing its own catastrophic failures and righting its own wrongs, and brings into question whether anything has been learnt from this scandal.
"It is desperately sad that 23 people have died before they received any compensation. How many more deaths will there be before the horrors of the Windrush scandal are addressed in a competent, compassionate and supportive manner?"
Interim chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Minnie Rahman, said: "The running of the compensation scheme has guaranteed injustice, with survivors forced to beg for justice from the same people who wronged them."
The Windrush scandal resulted in people with a right to live in the UK being wrongfully detained or deported to the Caribbean.
An independent review last year found it was "foreseeable and avoidable" and that victims were let down by the Home Office’s "systemic operational failings".
The report called for Home Office ministers to admit that serious harm was inflicted on people who are British and to provide an "unqualified apology" to those affected and the wider black African-Caribbean community.
In December 2020, the Home Office announced an overhaul of the compensation scheme to ensure that people received more money, more quickly.
MPs on the home affairs committee welcomed the changes, but said the reforms had not gone far enough.
The committee’s Labour chairwoman, Yvette Cooper, said: "It has been four years since the Windrush scandal emerged and it is truly shocking how few people have received any compensation for the hardship they endured at the hands of the Home Office.
"It is particularly distressing that 23 individuals have died without receiving any compensation.
"Urgent action is needed to get compensation to those who have been so badly wronged."
She said it was "staggering, given the failures of the Windrush scandal, that the Home Office has allowed some of the same problems to affect the Windrush Compensation Scheme too".
According to the Home Office, as of September this year more than £31.6 million in compensation has been paid across 864 claims.
A further £5.6 million has been offered in compensation, awaiting acceptance or pending review.
A spokesperson added: "The home secretary and the department remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that members of the Windrush generation receive every penny of compensation that they are entitled to…
"We are pleased this report welcomes the changes made to the scheme in December and we continue to make improvements, such as simplifying the application process, hiring more caseworkers and removing the end date. We firmly believe that moving the operation of the scheme out of the home office would risk significantly delaying vital payments to those affected."
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