More Legal Support Available for 93% of Windrush Victims not yet Compensated
Four years on, and with Windrush survivors still experiencing barriers to compensation, more legal support is available.
On 22 June, to mark the annual Windrush Day, the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) is raising awareness of the free legal support available to help more than 11,000 survivors of the Windrush scandal. The program aims to encourage more survivors, who were unlawfully detained, deported or denied their legal rights by the UK Government, and who are still to apply for compensation.
Following the launch of the Windrush Compensation Scheme in April 2019, only 7% of Windrush survivors have been compensated for the hardships and discrimination they unlawfully suffered.
Around £40 million has been reportedly paid to 1037 of the 3878 Windrush generation applicants. The Home Office estimated that around 15,000 were due compensation. Recent reports on the scheme by the Home Affairs Select Committee, JUSTICE and the Windrush Justice Clinic all concluded that the lack of government funded legal advice was a barrier to claimants bringing claims.
In April 2021 the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) in partnership with eight leading law firms (Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Charles Russell Speechlys, Debevoise, Dechert, Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, Taylor Wessing and White & Case) set up the Windrush Legal Initiative to provide legal advice and support for people to apply to the Windrush Compensation Scheme. In January 2022, the Windrush Legal Initiative transferred from JCWI to GMIAU. Over the last year it has assisted 29 people with their claims.
Dechert partner Giles Belsey said, "We are delighted to be working with the GMIAU and our partner law firms to support Windrush claimants. We have seen first-hand that individuals can really benefit from legal assistance to help them through the documentation. Many people who are eligible to make claims may be reluctant to do so, they may not appreciate the real extent of losses they have suffered or they may feel put off by the process, time and effort. We understand it can be a difficult decision to come forward but we are there to help. We encourage those affected to obtain the free and confidential legal advice which is offered and ultimately to claim for compensation they are due."
Over the coming year the program aims to support more Windrush survivors. GMIAU have recently been awarded funding from the Access to Justice Foundation to provide outreach sessions to ensure work is targeted to those who most need it.
Supervising Solicitor of GMIAU, Nicola Burgess added: "The initiative provides vital access to justice for those who have experienced decades of disbelief. An inability to prove lawful status denies a person their rights and prevents access to key services we take for granted. The human impact of this is immeasurable. Many survivors we work with have lost employment, been detained, threatened with deportation, made homeless, experienced the breakdown of relationships and have been unable to visit loved ones. Working with our teams of lawyers they at last feel supported and listened to."
Dechert is a leading global law firm with 22 offices around the world. The firm advises on matters and transactions of the greatest complexity, bringing energy, creativity and efficient management of legal issues to deliver commercial and practical advice for clients.