- Video report by ITV News Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall
Victims of the Windrush scandal will be entitled to apply for compensation as of Wednesday – at an estimated cost of at least £200 million.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Home Secretary said there is no limit to the amount which could be paid to those affected as he confirmed the compensation scheme has "no cap".
Sajid Javid continued that the Windrush generation had been let down “by successive governments” and described their treatment as “unacceptable” and a “terrible mistake”, which is a “regret to me, my department and the Government”.
While “words alone are not enough”, he said he is confident the newly-launched compensation scheme will begin to “right the wrongs that have been done to them”.
“Nothing we say or do will ever wipe away the hurt, the trauma, the loss - but together we can begin to right the wrongs of Windrush.”
In a written statement, Mr Javid added: "When I became Home Secretary I vowed to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation.
“We’ve been working tirelessly to fulfil that promise ever since and have helped more than 3,600 people secure the citizenship they were entitled to.
“But it’s right that we compensate those who faced extreme difficulties and hardship – and this scheme will go some way in doing that.
“The Windrush generation have given so much to this country and we will ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott warned the scandal is “set to continue unless and until the Government ends its hostile environment policy”.
Responding to Mr Javid's announcement in the Commons, Ms Abbott said: “We have to remember how much pride the Windrush generation took in being British.
“They came with passports that indicated to them that they are British.
"There was the humiliation of being told year on year that they were somehow not British, not worthy, not deserving.
“And services that they had paid for over years and years were not available.”
She added she hopes the delays applicants had faced with the hardship fund – an urgent support scheme for effected members of the Windrush generation – would not repeat themselves in the compensation scheme.
Mr Javid said he believes nine people have now benefited from the hardship fund after Ms Abbott asked if it were true only two had successful applications.
Giving reaction to the Home Secretary’s announcement, Glenda Caesar, a former NHS worker who lost her job and feared deportation after being unable to provide the Home Office with the correct immigration papers, said she shouldn’t have to fill out anymore forms and deserved compensation for the stress she had been put through.
“[The] loss of job, lost ten years of my pension, so all of that’s what we are looking for, I don’t want to have to go through filling in forms all over again.
“We have submitted all the documentation you needed.
"Create your system, go through it and pay us the way that you should be, don’t ask us to fill in forms again.
“We’ve fought enough, we’ve done all the fighting.”
Sonia Williams, who has been in the UK since 1975 but at one point faced deportation due to a lack of paperwork, agreed Windrush victims should not have to “fight” for anything anymore.
She told ITV News: “Still fighting, why am I still fighting?
"I’ve got a British passport, you’ve said I’m British now.
"Why am I fighting for the wrong you've done me?
“I didn’t do wrong, you done wrong to me.
"You took away my job, my driving license, my right to claim benefits.
“You had me in a shell like a hermit in my house, cowering,frightened that I was going to be deported because you told me I was an illegal immigrant, so why would I trust you now?”
- Who can apply for the scheme?
There is no cap on the scheme and the Government estimates a baseline cost of £200 million – meaning the total figure could be greater.
The scheme was put together after a consultation with those affected and guided by the advice of Martin Ford QC.
It will pay eligible individuals who did not have the right documentation to prove their right to residency in the UK and suffered as a result.
These could range from a loss of employment or access to housing,education or NHS healthcare to emotional distress or a deterioration in mental and physical health.
Mr Javid did not say how much individuals can expect to receive.
The scheme is open to anyone from any nationality who has 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.
Certain children and grandchildren of those arriving before 1973 and some close family members may also be eligible to apply.
Those with criminal records are also eligible, although Mr Javid said the Government reserves the right to change the amount given in cases of serious crimes.
People who were wrongfully detained or removed from the UK could also be able to make a claim.
The Home Office will also refund fees paid for certain immigration applications that were unsuccessful and reimburse certain associated legal costs that were incurred.
Mr Javid said he believes the scheme is “simple, accessible and fair”.
What is the Windrush scandal?
The Windrush Generation are people from the Caribbean who were invited to help rebuild the UK in the decades following World War II.
In June 1948, 492 passengers arrived at Tilbury Dock,Essex, on the SS Empire Windrush after making the 8,000 mile voyage from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to the UK.
The passengers, many ex-servicemen who fought with the UK in the war, would help with labour shortages and very few intended to stay for long.
Changes to immigration law in the UK now require people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits.
Some members of the Windrush generation, who have lived in the UK for over 50 years, voiced concern over their right to remain because they couldn’t provide the Home Office with the right immigration papers.
Adult Windrush immigrants from the 1960s and early 1970s were usually marked with permanent right to reside stamps when they arrived,but their children were often included on their parent's passports.
The Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain, resulting in thousands of undocumented Caribbean immigrants who couldn’t prove they have the right to work in the UK because they don't have their original passports.
People without the right to work are prohibited from claiming benefits or access NHS services.