Windrush Compensation Scheme Contents

2Flaws in design and implementation


8.The Department claimed that the scheme was unprecedented, but that it had spoken to ombudsmen across government in its efforts to design an effective scheme.23 Following the session, the Department wrote to us and described how it drew on the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Principles for Remedy guidance, the National Audit Office’s briefing Administration of time-limited compensation schemes and unspecified ‘good practice from the Home Office and other government departments’.24 The Department acknowledged the design was complex but claimed it attempted to find a balance between a scheme that was comprehensive and one that was easy to understand and apply to.25 The Department told us it did not always achieve this balance, especially at the beginning of the scheme. It also stated that it could have explained some aspects of the scheme better to applicants and that it would consider changes to the guidance it sent them.26 It told us that it was still working to improve that balance through its planned changes to the scheme.27

9.The Department asserted that no-one eligible to receive compensation should fail to receive it because they could not provide evidence to support their claim.28 The Department claimed it designed the scheme to minimise the amount of evidence required, although the National Audit Office reported that initially some areas, for example claims for loss of access to employment, had stringent evidence requirements.29 The Department lowered the burden of proof for some areas of claims within the scheme in October 2020.30 The Department recognised that it would still be very difficult for some to obtain documentary evidence and that in such cases the Department often needed to work with the applicant, former employers or other government departments, such as HMRC and DWP, to obtain that evidence.31 Even then, the Department stated that many applicants felt the scheme required too much documentation. It assured us that it would continue to review whether the demands placed upon applicants were realistic.32

10.We noted that it has been especially difficult for some types of claimants to see progress with their claims.33 The National Audit Office reported that more than one-third of claims on behalf of the estate of someone who has died had not moved past the initial registration stage of the compensation process and at the time we took evidence only four of 132 such claims had received a payment.34 The Department told us this was because some of the people submitting these claim do not have probate or a letter of administration, and it understood that claimants had been advised that they did not require a grant of probate, causing them to be ‘stuck in a situation where the claim cannot be progressed because we [the Department] cannot confirm that the person had that authority’.35 The Department said it has tested this requirement with its legal advisers, and that grants of probate are legally required, but it said it would shortly bring forward a range of measures that it hopes may resolve some of these issues.36

11.The Department underlined its determination to right the wrongs it has inflicted on the Windrush generation. It stated that this is why getting the compensation scheme right is absolutely essential.37 The Department repeatedly committed to maximising applications to the scheme and ensuring that people get the maximum amount of compensation they are entitled to.38 It told us that the scheme complements its wider plans to change the culture of the Department and make it more open to people who are directly affected by its policies and operations.39 It stated that this transformation was a long-term project on which it had much further to go.40 We asked what practical impacts this cultural change may have on staff but in our view did not receive any clear answer.41

Planning assumptions

12.We asked whether the Department had been too optimistic in setting out its initial assumptions.42 The National Audit Office reported that the Department originally estimated it would pay between £120 and £310 million to an estimated 15,000 claimants.43 In October 2019, the Department reduced this estimate to between £60 million and £260 million to 11,500 individuals.44 The Department acknowledged that its original forecasts of 15,000 applicants were ‘definitely wrong’ despite being based on its own analysis and census data. It went on to state that, having received only 2,369 applications (see footnote), it was likely to reduce its revised estimate of 11,500 further.45 At the time we took evidence in early June, it reported having paid only £20.5 million in compensation.46

13.The Department told us it wanted to ensure all those potentially eligible to apply to the scheme could do so.47 This committee recommended in March 2019 that the Department extend its historical reviews “beyond Caribbean Commonwealth nationals to include other Commonwealth nationals who may have been wrongfully detained, removed or sanctioned under the compliant environment”. But, in June 2019, the Department rejected this recommendation and referred to it having already ‘conducted extensive outreach’ to raise awareness.48 Despite the Department’s apparent efforts, The National Audit Office reported in May 2021 that, in a survey by the Department, more than half of respondents thought the scheme was relevant only to those from the Caribbean.49 We heard that the Department had started its community fund to support outreach work only in December 2020, and therefore asked why there had been such a delay.50 The Department recognised that, in hindsight, it ‘could have been quicker off the mark’ with its efforts to engage with other affected communities.51 It assured us it was actively looking to ensure it promoted the scheme across a broader range of communities, such as those from South Asia and West Africa, through its outreach events and community fund.52 The Department claimed that the number of applications from these areas was still relatively small but did not specify how many applications that amounted to or how many it expected.53

14.The Department acknowledged it took longer to process claims than it had expected.54 The National Audit Office calculated that claims took an average of 154 staff hours to process to payment, five times more than the Department originally estimated.55 The Department could not explain how it made its original caseworking estimates but assured us it made them ‘with the best of intentions’.56 It recognised it had misunderstood how complex cases would be and how long it may take to gather information on behalf of claimants from employers and other government departments.57

Operational capacity and capability

15.The National Audit Office reported that the Department originally planned to have 125 caseworkers, but at the launch of the scheme it only had six.58 The Department told us it had entirely rebuilt its capacity plan since ‘October or November’ 2020.59 However, the National Audit Office reported that, at March 2021, the Department struggled to provide a clear picture of the caseworkers it needed and this capacity plan differed from the figures presented to the scheme’s senior management team.60 The Department explained that, at the end of March 2021, it had 53 caseworkers working on the scheme with plans to recruit another ten. It went on to tell us that it now had plans to recruit another 15 caseworkers, of whom five had arrived, with an additional five in training and 20 ‘in the pipeline to arrive’.61 Despite having fewer caseworkers than it requires for the scheme, the Department told us it did ‘not have too much of a problem’ recruiting caseworkers. However, it pointed out that it had identified the retention of people with caseworking skills as a major risk.62

16.The Department told us it has a lengthy and comprehensive training course for caseworkers followed by mentoring to ensure that caseworkers formulate awards accurately.63 The National Audit Office noted that, as of March 2021, the Department was aware of six overpayments, totalling £38,292 in value.64 Based on a review of a small sample of casework, the National Audit Office found that the Department’s quality assurance processes are not picking up all errors.65 It also reported that the scheme’s quality assurance managers return more than half of claims they review to a caseworker for further work.66 The Department said that this was sometimes because not everything had been done to maximise compensation for the claimant, but acknowledged it wants to reduce the number of cases returned to caseworkers.67 The Department told us it is reviewing its guidance and processes for its relatively junior caseworkers to make them simpler and reduce the risk of making errors.68

17.The Department noted that it was exploring options to obtain additional caseworking support for the scheme from elsewhere within the Department.69 In the longer term, it is examining how it can restructure the way it organises its caseworkers across all areas of the Department as part of its transformation programme.70 It stated this would bring together caseworking functions and expertise into a single career structure.71 It claimed this would be specifically designed to make it easier to learn lessons from different schemes, for example the Passport Office, which the Department could then apply within its Windrush response.72

23 Qq 31–32

24 Letter from Home Office Permanent Secretary to the Committee, 22 June 2021

25 Qq 24, 26

26 Qq 26, 33

27 Q 26

28 Q 40

29 C&AG’s report, para 1.8

30 Qq 40, 74; C&AG’s Report, para 4.11

31 Qq 29, 40–42

32 Qq 40, 42–43

33 Qq 26, 72

34 C&AG’s Report, para 4.8, Windrush Compensation Scheme data: May 2021 – GOV.UK (, accessed 29 June 2021

35 Q 72

36 Qq 72–73

37 Qq 23, 33

38 Qq 25, 29, 43, 49, 53, 57, 60

39 Qq 19–20, 68

40 Qq 18–19

41 Qq 18–19

42 Q 25

43 C&AG’s Report, para 9

44 C&AG’s Report, para 1.11

45 Q 25 (although the department stated 2,369, we understand it would have meant 2,367, which was the latest figure at the time according to Windrush Compensation Scheme data: May 2021 – GOV.UK (, accessed 29 June 2021)

47 Qq 46, 49

48 HM Treasury, Government response to the Committee of Public Accounts on the Eighty-Second and the Eighty-Sixth to the Ninety-Second reports from Session 2017–19, CP 113, June 2019

49 C&AG’s Report para 2.7

50 Qq 46–48

51 Qq 47–48

52 Q 46

53 Q 46

54 Q 29

55 C&AG’s Report, para 4.4

56 Q 31

57 Qq 29, 31, 55

58 Q 52, C&AG’s Report, para 4.3

59 Q 52

60 C&AG’s Report, para 4.3

61 Q 30

62 Qq 66–68

63 Q 54

64 C&AG’s Report, para 4.17

65 C&AG’s report, 4.18

66 C&AG’s report, 4.15

67 Q 53

68 Q 53

69 Q 30

70 Qq 17–18

71 Qq 18, 44, 68

72 Q 44

Published: 27 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement