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Windrush scandal victim says govt ‘waiting for us to die off’ in row over compensation scheme

A Windrush victim has branded the compensation scheme for victims of the scandal “disgusting”, and suggested the government were waiting for those affected to “die off”.

Critics have repeatedly called for the Home Office to be stripped of responsibility for determining and handling payments to victims and said it should be given to an independent body instead.

The compensation scheme has been in place since 3 April 2019.

It was set up a year after it emerged many British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, had been denied access to healthcare and benefits and threatened with deportation despite having the right to live in the UK.

Despite growing concerns around the number of people dying before receiving payouts, the Home Office has so far resisted demands for such reforms.

Conroy Downie, a 67-year-old Windrush victim who has been advising thousands of others on how to make compensation claims is still waiting for his case to be fully settled.

He told the PA news agency: “It’s a failure, it’s disgusting. I think they are waiting for us to die off.”

More on Windrush

The great-grandfather was born in Jamaica and came to the UK as a teenager before joining the Army.

Conroy Downie has helped advise thousands of people on Windrush scandal compensation. Pic: Jamie Lau/Age UK/PA Wire
Image: Conroy Downie has helped advise thousands of people on Windrush scandal compensation. Pic: Jamie Lau/Age UK/PA Wire

Twice, he faced deportation amid the scandal, adding that “the system has failed us” as he described how one of the main problems was that people still “don’t trust the Home Office”.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said while the latest figures show “modest improvements” in the performance of the scheme, “many people are still waiting far too long for the redress they are due – over a year or even 18 months in the worst cases”.

She added: “This is unacceptable, especially given that for many of the older applicants time is not on their side.”

It follows calls last month in the Lords for Windrush scandal victims to have similar support to those affected by the Post Office scandal.

According to PA analysis of the latest available Home Office figures, 7,862 claims have been made as of January 2024.

A total of £80.1m had been paid out by the end of the first month of this year for 2,233 claims – an average of nearly £35,900 per claim.

Some 4,847 claims had been fully closed by this time, of which just over half (52%) were found to have no entitlement to compensation, 36% were offered compensation, and the remaining 12% had their eligibility for a claim refused or withdrawn.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “We firmly believe moving the operation of the scheme away from the Home Office would risk significantly delaying vital payments to people – there would be considerable disruption to the processing of outstanding claims whilst a new body was established and made operational.”

Sky News Source