22 April 2021
We are volunteering for a free legal advice clinic addressing serious concerns over lack of legal support for applicants, one year on from the Windrush Lessons Learned Independent Review.
We will assist with the compensation claims under the Windrush Compensation Scheme, challenging low rewards and possible judicial reviews.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has launched a free legal advice clinic in collaboration with eight leading law firms in response to consistently low numbers of applications for the UK government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme, compounded by a lack of legal support in navigating the complex application process.
The Windrush Compensation Scheme was set up in 2019 following the Windrush scandal, which broke in 2018 when it emerged that despite living and working in the UK for decades – having been invited to the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 – many of the "Windrush generation" and their family members, including children and grandchildren, were told that they were illegally living in the UK and were wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights.
Under the scheme those affected by the Windrush scandal can apply for compensation for the significant detrimental impact it’s had on their lives. Many had lost homes and jobs, as well as being denied access to healthcare and benefits. In December of last year, the government overhauled the scheme, raising the minimum amount of compensation for victims to £10,000 compensation.
Two years on from its launch only 1,996 claims have been made under the scheme. The government estimates that more than 12,000 individuals are eligible, so this represents at most 17% with 83% yet to make an application. The value of all payments made through the scheme stands at £6.1 million; however, this is only a fraction of the estimated £500 million total expected to be paid out under the scheme. The scheme was due to close to claims in April 2021; however, on 6 February 2020, the Home Office announced that they were extending the duration of the scheme by two years.
Dominic FitzPatrick, UK Senior Partner said: "Years after the Windrush scandal revealed the deportation, detention and denial of benefits and healthcare to thousands of people who were living lawfully in the UK, victims continue to be denied redress. Working with JCWI is an opportunity for us to help address this major social ill by providing legal support to those who may not otherwise be able to access it. The legal advice clinic has the potential to reach a great number of people. The pro bono support we, and the other firms involved, are able to provide aims to increase the number of people applying successfully for the Windrush Compensation Scheme. This is something that I and the firm are proud to support."
Tandeep Minhas, Partner and Co-Chair of our Cultural Diversity Network commented: "The Windrush Lessons Learned Independent Review highlighted a lack of awareness of the scheme resulting in the low numbers of applications as well as serious concerns surrounding the lack of legal support available for the applicants. For those who have been affected by this, justice has still not been achieved. That's why the work we are doing alongside the JCWI is so vital."
Vin Bange, Partner and Co-chair of our Cultural Diversity Network commented: "Working alongside JCWI we can help readdress the wrongs done against the Windrush generation and I am extremely proud of this. Bringing our legal expertise to bear is a privilege for us and underlines our own approach to diversity and inclusion throughout the firm."Find out more about the Windrush scandal here
by Robert Fenner and Tandeep Minhas