'Call for evidence' launched as ministers prepare Windrush compensation scheme

Victims of the Windrush scandal are being invited to submit details of their ordeals as the Government draws up a compensation scheme for those affected.

The Home Office launched a month-long "call for evidence" to inform its development of a system to provide redress for people who experienced financial losses because of difficulties proving their immigration status.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said it was the first step towards establishing the scheme, with a consultation on the proposed "technical details" to follow.

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He said: "People of the Windrush generation have unfairly had the lives they have built in the UK turned upside down. That is not fair.

"If we are to design a compensation scheme that effectively addresses the issues these people have faced it is vital that we listen.

"To put things right we need to understand more about what happened and to understand the personal stories. That is exactly what today's call for evidence is about."

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But Labour MP David Lammy, a prominent figure in exposing the fiasco, said the step "doesn't help the people left destitute because they are unable to work or claim benefits", and questioned when the compensation scheme will be in place.

A Home Office document published on Thursday states that the call for evidence, which will run until June 8, is open to members of the Windrush generation who have "faced difficulties in establishing their status under the immigration system".

Any other interested organisations and individuals can also submit contributions.

People caught up in the saga are invited to answer questions about how they were affected, when they first knew their was a problem and what losses they experienced.

In a written statement to the Commons, Mr Javid said: "I want to put in place a compensation scheme as quickly and as carefully as possible, to help redress what has gone wrong."

The cabinet minister, who met with high commissioners from the Caribbean on Thursday, also announced that Martin Forde QC, himself the son of Windrush parents, will provide independent advice on the design of the compensation scheme.

No official estimates have been given for the number of people who could be eligible.

As of last week the number of potential Windrush cases reported to a dedicated Home Office taskforce stood at around 3,000.

Data published on Friday showed that, at the time of the last census in 2011, there were 5,193 Caribbean-born people living in England and Wales who arrived in the UK prior to 1971 and held no passport when the household survey was carried out seven years ago.

Plans for the scheme were first unveiled by former home secretary Amber Rudd, who resigned following controversy over immigration targets.

Ministers faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation - named after a ship that brought migrants to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948.

Commonwealth citizens who had arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain under the 1971 Immigration Act.

While many of those who arrived have taken British citizenship or have official documents confirming their status, others have struggled to produce paperwork demonstrating they are lawfully resident.

People who have been living legally in the UK for decades have lost their jobs, been denied access to NHS treatment, benefits and pensions, had their driving licences withdrawn and been warned they face deportation.