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THE government is “dragging its feet” over compensation payments to people affected by the Windrush scandal, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said today.
She was responding to Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s written statement confirming that the compensation scheme will not be up and running until after a consultation closes in October, and that the government will not introduce a hardship fund.
Fees paid for unsuccessful immigration applications would be within the scope of the scheme, which would be open to people – some resident in Britain for decades – who lost jobs, had benefits payments refused, were deported or threatened with removal from the country or denied NHS care and housing.
The scheme may also take into account uncertainty that caused or contributed to health conditions including stress, anxiety and depression.
Ms Abbott said: “Many of our fellow citizens have been left destitute by the Home Office and the government’s hostile environment policy.
“They cannot wait until October for a consultation to be concluded on the government’s promised compensation scheme,” she added, calling it an “insult” that Mr Javid had failed to confirm when the compensation scheme would be in place.
“The government must not attempt to limit the scale of this compensation scheme by only compensating those who have gone through the taskforce,” Ms Abbott insisted.
“Compensation must be paid to each and every Windrush citizen who has suffered at the hands of the government’s hostile environment.”
A man who arrived in Britain from Jamaica at the age of three has said he was sacked from his job in 2012 and branded an illegal immigrant.
Hubert Howard, 61, was told he was not eligible for benefits, and consequently ran up debts to the tune of £20,000. He has been blacklisted by credit agencies and is unable to open a bank account.
He told the Guardian: “I can’t function day to day. It means I can’t do anything – make payments, get a mobile phone contract.
“My friends are helping me. I don’t want to hear that the government is going to do this or that or the other, four years down the line. I need compensation now.”
Lamiat Sabin is the Morning Star’s Parliamentary Reporter.
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