KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday April 16, 2019 – Government has welcomed the announcement of the establishment of the Windrush Compensation Scheme by the British Government, and is encouraging individuals who have been affected to submit their claims.
The scheme applies to members of the so-called Windrush Generation’ – immigrants who arrived in the United Kingdom (UK) between 1948 and 1973 from the Caribbean to address labour shortages, and helped to rebuild Britain after World War II.
Through the initiative, payments will be made to eligible individuals who did not have the right documentation to prove their status in the UK and suffered adverse effects on their lives as a result.
It will provide for the granting of citizenship to those affected; the waiving of fees and charges for the Windrush Generation and their families in relation to their return to the UK.
Leader of Government Business in the Senate, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said the Government actively participated in the consultations undertaken by the Windrush Task Force established by the British Government last year, and had shared its views on how the scheme could be established and the areas for compensation.
She said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will examine the provisions and operationalisation of the scheme in greater detail, in consultation with the Attorney General’s Chambers.
“In the interim, we will ensure that those Jamaicans who sought assistance from us when the crisis came to attention last year are made aware of how they may pursue their claims. We will also be placing an ad in the papers and on our website, as we did last year when seeking to help persons understand if they might be eligible for re-entry,” she said.
Johnson Smith said the Government also welcomes the fact that in addition to the relevant monetary payout to eligible claimants, “the victims of this terrible tragedy will finally receive an accompanying apology from the Government of the UK”.
“I think it is important to recognise that some damage caused can never be compensated for in monetary terms. Any compensatory scheme must, therefore, inherently fall short. While the damage will never be fully repaired, we very much hope that the present efforts at redress, including the apologies, will allow the many families affected some recompense and a greater hope for a better future in their adopted home in the UK,” she said.
The compensation scheme, which was announced in London by Home Secretary Sajid Javid earlier this month, will be open for two years.
Persons who have been affected by the crisis can submit claims to receive compensation in various categories from the British Government if the claims are successful. These areas include: loss of access to services (education, healthcare); denial of access to employment and/or benefits; refund of fees for certain immigration applications; compensation for detention, deportation or removal; and impact on normal daily lives.
The compensation scheme is open to anyone from any nationality with the right to live or work in the UK without any restrictions or is now a British citizen, and arrived in the UK before December 31, 1988. It is also open to anyone from a Commonwealth country who arrived and settled in the UK before 1973.
Members of the Windrush Generation, many of whom had arrived in the UK as children on their parents’ passports, were unable to prove their right to live in the country. Although they have lived in Britain for many decades, they never formally became British citizens.
Amid the tightening of the immigration rules, thousands of persons were being denied services, losing their jobs, facing deportation, among other problems.
With the help of the Jamaican Government, the UK has been able to track down a number of people, and more than 3,600 have been granted British citizenship.