Braverman defends Home Office as figures reveal one in four Windrush claimants not compensated

Fitzroy Maynard told ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia he is still waiting for Windrush compensation - as Home Secretary Suella Braverman defended the government's handling of the scheme

The home secretary has defended the government's handling of the Windrush compensation scheme after figures showed only one in four claims have resulted in a payment.

Five years after the government pledged redress for those wrongly classified as illegal immigrants, just 26% of 6,348 applications for compensation have been successful.

Ahead of Windrush Day on Thursday, claimants told ITV News the system is so bureaucratic and complex that they have given up on pursuing payment.

When asked by ITV News if she would apologise for the scheme, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "Actually, we have simplified the application process. We've made big changes to the claim form, for example, to make it simpler and easier to use. 

"We've held hundreds of face-to-face events with hundreds of thousands of people over the last few years to really hear from them at the grassroots level what their experience is going through the process."

'The worst time of my life'

A man who was wrongly stripped of his right to live in the UK as part of the Windrush scandal has criticised the government's efforts to offer compensation.

Fitzroy Maynard came to the UK in 1980 from Antigua to join his family. Yet despite living and working without any issues for decades, he struggled to find new employment because he was unable to prove his right to live and work in the UK.

Mr Maynard was left homeless in 2007 - a point in his life that he was the main carer for his young daughter after her mother became seriously ill.

He told ITV News the period of his life between 2008-09 was the "worst time of my life".

In 2018, Praxis, a refugee and migrant charity, helped Mr Maynard obtain the documentation he needed to access employment and support.

He is now living with his daughter in a council provided flat, but which is currently in a state of serious disrepair.

With the help of a solicitor Mr Maynard was able to apply for compensation in 2020, but did not receive a response from the Home Office for nearly a year.

A year later he launched a legal action against the Home Office for the protracted delays in processing his and other claimants' applications, and since then has received an offer of compensation.

However, it fell significantly short of reimbursing him for the years of hardship he was forced to endure and is currently engaged in an appeal against his offer.

"They don't seem like they want to give you the full amount. They say that they're going to, but they're not," he added.

Jamaican immigrants welcomed by RAF officials after the HMT Empire Windrush arrived in Tilbury, Essex. Credit: PA

In her interview with Itv News, Ms Braverman insisted the government has "simplified" the scheme, saying: "We've made big changes to the claim form, for example, to make it simpler and easier to use."

The HMT Empire Windrush first docked in England 75 years ago, bringing legal immigrant workers from the Caribbean to help fill post-war labour shortages.

Five years ago it was revealed thousands of immigrants had been incorrectly classed as illegal.

People affected by the scandal arrived to the UK between 1948 and 1971, when immigration laws changed.

Those who were incorrectly classed as illegal immigrants, who were also from countries outside the Caribbean, struggled to find work, housing, access healthcare, and in some cases people who had lived their whole lives in the UK were deported.

Ms Braverman conceded that the Windrush generation were "shamefully" let down, adding she had been "particularly moved by the injustice that was suffered by many thousands of people".

She added that so far the Home Office has paid £62 million in compensation to claimants.

In January, the department confirmed it would ditch three key commitments made by former home secretary Priti Patel in light of the scandal.

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Ms Braverman said that following discussions with a working group comprising community organisers and government representatives, the Home Office dropped the pledge to to hold reconciliation events for the Windrush community, as this would be "re-traumatising" for those impacted.

She then added: "Actually, we've carried out extensive engagement, held hundreds of events at the grassroots levels within communities face-to-face with hundreds of thousands of people in all types of settings, which have been incredibly accessible, and very well attended and very meaningful."

Bishop Derek Webley, co-chair of the Windrush Cross-Government Working Group, said he was "content" with the the scheme's "direction of travel".

"In my view the direction of travel is in the right way," he said.

"Obviously I wish certain things could be done much quicker... nevertheless with each application that's been made they're personal and they come with different levels of intensity and probably the need for people to collect more information."

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