Three Windrush victims have been flown back to Britain to live from Jamaica after being given “exceptional” help, the home secretary has revealed – as he again delayed a full compensation scheme.
The cost of the flights was paid by the Home Office after the individuals were either wrongly removed from the UK, or were unable to return after leaving the country temporarily, Sajid Javid suggested.
They are among 164 people who were detained or removed after arriving in Britain before 1973, many as a result of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policies – of which 40 have still to be traced.
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Now Mr Javid has announced that the details of a compensation scheme for all the Windrush victims has been shelved until the New Year, despite being promised last July.
In the meantime, he has announced an “exceptional and urgent payments” policy to “offer support to those in immediate need”, with three payments made so far.
In a statement, Mr Javid wrote: “To the end of October, the home office has funded the flights from Kingston, Jamaica to London Gatwick for three individuals who were in contact with the taskforce and who faced urgent and exceptional circumstances.
“These flights were made on 28 July, 5 September and 14 September.”
However, the move falls far short of cross-party demands for a generous hardship fund for the victims, some of whom have been left heavily in debt, or destitute, by their experience and the delays.
Thousands were trapped by the hostile environment crackdown, unable to provide the correct documents to employers, landlords and the NHS acting as “de facto border guards”.
A consultation on a fully-fledged compensation scheme was due to end in October, but was extended to November. The scheme will now not be revealed until next year.
“I am determined that we design a compensation scheme that effectively addresses the losses people have faced,” Mr Javid added, in a letter to the Commons home affairs committee.
“It is important that we listen to the views of those affected and understand their experiences, through the consultation, to help us get the scheme right.”
But Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “Each month, the scale of the damage done by the Windrush scandal becomes clearer.
“We now know that at least 16 people who were wrongfully detained or deported have since passed away and will never receive any apology or compensation for the appalling wrongs done to them.”
Mr Javid also published figures showing £6.05m has been spent on the Windrush reform programme and an independent “lessons learned” review by the end of October.
At that point, there were 175 full-time equivalent staff assigned to the initiatives, while additional personnel have been used at times during the financial year.
As well as staffing costs, the spending includes around £56,600 on external legal advice and £165,000 on contractors and independent advisers.
Mr Javid had already apologised over 18 cases considered most likely to have “suffered detriment” because their right to be in the UK was not recognised.
The number of applications refused by the Windrush scheme stood at 186, with more than 1,000 cases outstanding and a “significant proportion” of those likely to be refused.
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