The Home Office (the Department) promised to learn lessons from the Windrush scandal, but having failed the Windrush generation once, it appears to be failing them again. There have been fundamental problems with both the Department’s design and implementation of the Windrush Compensation Scheme (the scheme) and those problems are coming home to roost. The Department designed a scheme that was too complex and difficult for the claimants to engage with and failed to launch the scheme with adequate capacity to run it, and it has played catch-up ever since. Some people have died before their claims have been dealt with, and only 412 claims out of the 2,367 submitted have received their final payment.
The Department still risks seeming indifferent to the impact it has had on people’s lives. The key assumptions it has made have been wrong and claims have involved much more work than the Department imagined. We have previously reported on the Department’s lack of curiosity about the impact of its policies, and the administration of this scheme is another example of this. There is a continued challenge to ensure the Department has enough caseworkers with the right experience to deal with the complex reality of applicants’ circumstances. The Department has ambitious plans to change its culture, but there are still giant steps to take.
It is encouraging to hear the Department admit to some of its mistakes with the scheme, but it should not have taken two years to reach this point. Justice delayed is justice denied. When will victims of the Windrush scandal finally have redress? There is an urgent need to improve the scheme and make good on promises to right the wrongs for those who suffered.