Windrush scandal - Southwark calls for action to support affected residents

22 June 2021

As Windrush Day happens today, Tuesday 22 June, the council is focusing once again on this atrocious scandal and recommitting its efforts to support those affected.

Following the Windrush Lessons Learned Review by Wendy Williams (March 2020), as a hugely diverse London borough, home to many families with Caribbean origins, Southwark Council and its partners promised to do everything possible to support residents affected, but as the pandemic took hold, work had to be postponed. Work has now begun again to raise awareness of this issue.

Today, Cllr Alice Macdonald, cabinet member for equalities, neighbourhoods and leisure, has written to the Home Secretary, together with a number of local and charitable organisations (see list below) in reference to the compensation scheme to ask for greater clarification and support for those affected. The letter specifically challenges the Government on compensation, stating that ‘Since 2019, Thousands of people have been affected by this scandal, but many are reluctant, and often frightened, to ask for help. As of May 2021, only an estimated 19 per cent of those people known to be eligible for help have come forward. By the end of May 2021, 2,367 claims had been made, but only 687 people had been awarded payments.’

Cllr Macdonald says: “Southwark is immensely proud of its diversity and the positive contribution of generations of people from the Caribbean. We cannot right the past wrongs, but it is our duty to ensure that our residents receive justice, and where they need support, I want them to know we are here to help them get what is due to them. We will hold the Government to account on their promise to pay compensation, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that this atrocity is never forgotten.”

Furthermore, the council has asked the Home Secretary, as a matter of urgency, to provide extra funding and support to help those affected to access free, high quality legal and immigration advice, and to clarify data on how many people in Southwark have applied for or received compensation.

The Windrush Compensation Scheme (WCS) was launched in April 2019 to compensate members of the Windrush generation and their families for the losses and impacts they have suffered as a result of not being able to demonstrate their lawful immigration status. It is not known how many Southwark residents may be entitled to compensation through the WCS, but it is estimated to be fewer than 2,000. The 2011 census found 7,750 Southwark residents born in the Caribbean of whom 5,500 held a UK passport and 2,000 held Caribbean/Americas passports.

Also happening today, Southwark’s Mayor, Cllr Barrie Hargrove, is raising the ‘Windrush Flag’ at the council offices in Tooley Street this morning and a live, online event, organised by the Windrush Justice Clinic/Southwark Law Centre, begins at 6pm.

The council wants to ensure the Windrush generation is compensated by the government for past injustices by raising awareness of the Windrush Compensation Scheme, including who can apply and what they may be eligible for.

How to apply and where to find support

Affected residents can apply to the Windrush Compensation Scheme through the government website https://www.gov.uk/apply-windrush-compensation-scheme

Southwark Law Centre is launching a new legal support service to help Windrush victims with their claims from September 2021, though they will aim to support people in the meantime where possible.

For more information or to access help with applications, please contact: enquiries@southwarklawcentre.org.uk

Historical background

Windrush Lessons Learned Review by Wendy Williams found that ‘The causes of the Windrush scandal can be traced back through successive rounds of policy and legislation about immigration and nationality from the 1960s onwards, the aim of which was to restrict the eligibility of certain groups to live in the UK…. The 1971 Immigration Act confirmed that the Windrush generation had, and have, the right of abode in the UK. But they were not given any documents to demonstrate this status’. They were forgotten’ and ‘when successive governments wanted to demonstrate that they were being tough on immigration by tightening immigration control and passing laws creating, and then expanding the hostile environment, this was done with a complete disregard for the Windrush generation’. As such, it refers to a limited number of older individuals who received the right to live in Britain as a result of the 1971 Immigration Act (i.e. at least 50 years old, largely from the Caribbean). A Home Office review of deportations 2018-19 found 164 cases of Caribbean nationals having been resident in the UK prior to 1973. It is estimated that the total numbers of people directly affected may be in the high hundreds or low thousands.

Those who have signed the letter to the Home Secretary

  • Sally Causer, Executive Director – Southwark Law Centre
  • Neil Coyle MP, Member of Parliament for Bermondsey and Old Southwark
  • Harriet Harman MP, Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham
  • Helen Hayes MP, Member of Parliament for Dulwich and West Norwood
  • Marina Ahmad, London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark
  • Cathy Deplessis, Director – Southwark Pensioner’s Centre
  • Ross Diamond, CEO – Age UK Lewisham and Southwark
  • John Adewole, Founder – IFB Gaming
  • Catherine Evans, Director – London South Bank University Legal Advice Clinic
  • Tracey Ford, CEO – JAGS Foundation
  • Pedro Gil, Director – Studio Gil Commissioner - GLA Commission for Diversity in the Public Realms
  • Christopher Green, Chief Executive – Citizens Advice Southwark
  • Sarah Gibb, Director – Time & Talents
  • Jhon Jairo Marulanda Garzon Community Development & Project Director - Latin American Disabled People's Project
  • Krzysztof Mikata-Pralat, Director – Community Southwark
  • Nuala Riddell-Morales, Director - Carnaval del Pueblo
  • Russell Profitt MBE, Chair – Walworth Golden Oldies
  • David Stock, CEO – Southwark Disablement Association
  • Sarah Thurman, Head of Community Investments – United St Saviour’s Charity
  • Dr Greg Usher, CEO – METRO Charity
  • Cedric Wilby, Co-Founder - Southwark Unified Network of Black, Ethnic and Minority Forum
  • Mike Wilson, Executive Director – Pembroke House
  • Karin Woodley CBE, Chief Executive – Cambridge House
  • Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth

Page last updated: 22 June 2021