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Windrush Compensation Scheme: 'Please claim,' urges Forde

ADVICE: Martin Forde QC is encouraging people to pursue compensation regardless of whether they believed their experiences were addressed in the guidance (Image: YouTube)

THE INDEPENDENT adviser to the government on the Windrush Compensation Scheme has urged victims to submit their claims and not to be put off by ‘misleading’ reports in the media.

Martin Forde QC, who worked with the Home Office on the design of the scheme, told The Voice it was “not as appalling” as the scheme was being made out to be.

One particular area that initially provoked the ire of critics was the £10,000 compensation for deportation. Forde stressed that would not be the entire amount an individual would receive because they would also be eligible to claim compensation for lost earnings, the impact on their life and more.

Explaining the scheme, Forde said: “If when you were deported you were earning £15,000 a year net and you can’t get back for five years, you get £75,000 loss of earnings as well as your £10,000. If you were on benefits, you will get the equivalent of your benefits back.”

He added that there are further avenues for those not in work or receipt of benefits to be recompensed.

“If you were unemployed and you were not in receipt of benefits, you still have the impact on your family life, which is uncapped,” he said.

Forde encouraged people to pursue compensation regardless of whether they believed their experiences were addressed in the guidance.

The scheme explicitly covers 13 categories of claims but the Home Office can use its discretion to address an individual’s suffering if it falls outside of these.

Forde said: “The reason there’s a discretion to pay things outside of those identifiable heads of loss is because... I said to the Home Office, we’re bound to have missed something.”

NEGATIVE
The negative press coverage of the scheme was having a detrimental impact on those who it has been designed to help, according to Forde.

Of the victims, he said: “They’re not expecting to be properly compensated.

“They say, ‘Martin, what have the government ever done for us? They’re not going to be fair to us, we’re not going to bother’ and I’m going, please claim.”

In addition to those who were directly affected by the Home Office’s errors, children and grandchildren of those affected can also submit claims.

If a Windrush scandal victim is deceased, their estate can make a claim, as can close family members of eligible claimants where there has been a significant impact on their life – financial or otherwise.

People in the UK or overseas are entitled to claim and can receive compensation for financial losses in relation to employment, immigration fees, housing, health, education, banking and driving licences.

They can also be awarded money for the impact on their life and health, for detention and removal.

While Forde stands by the scheme, he is also aware of its limitations.

“Compensation is never enough I don’t think, ever. It’s a very crude way of just trying to put a monetary value on people’s suffering,” he said.

CONCERNS
Aware of concerns over the involvement of Citizens Advice – many victims initially sought help from them when they encountered issues over their British citizenship and did not receive the help they needed – Forde has encouraged community groups to help.

“I think people will find it much easier to go and talk to another black face who is part of a Caribbean community,” Forde said. He discouraged claimants from seeking assistance from no win no fee lawyers who can take excessive cuts and appealed to black lawyers to mobilise and offer their services pro bono.

The Home Office is holding a number of events around the country to raise awareness. A full list can be found on the Windrush Compensation section of gov.uk.

To find out more about the Windrush compensation scheme and how to make a claim visit gov.uk/guidance/ windrush-compensationscheme

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