WATCH: Floella Benjamin press Government on Windrush leaks

On Tuesday we reported that Baroness Floella Benjamin had written to the Prime Minister to ask for an assurance that the Government will not renege on its pledge to implement the recommendations of Wendy Williams in her Lessons Learned Review of the Windrush Scandal. 

Today, Floella sought the same commitment in a Lords question:

The reply was not exactly a robust commitment:

As I observed to the noble Lord a moment ago, the Government do not comment on leaks, and I do not propose to do so now. On the separate question that the noble Baroness asked, I entirely agree that there should be a fantastic celebration of the 75th anniversary of Windrush, and the successes of the Windrush compensation scheme and the Windrush scheme in granting status are factors to feed into that great celebration. On the final aspect of her question—the speeding up of payments under the Windrush compensation scheme—I am glad to report that we have issued final decisions in more than 59% of the claims received and have concluded more than 43% of claims. In July 2021, we also published a redesigned primary claim form and refreshed casework guidance with the aim of reducing the time taken to process claims and improving people’s experiences of applying to the scheme. We are recruiting additional caseworkers, directing resources to maximise performance and refining processes so that cases can progress as quickly as possible. We have delivered on the promise to recruit and post at least 120 EO-level casework resources by the spring of 2022, and we will continue to recruit additional resources.

The Government took an age to even acknowledge its failings, let alone act to resolve them. They should not be proud of themselves that almost half of compensation claims have still to be dealt with half a decade on.

Brian Paddick had another go at getting the Minister to commit to full implementation:

My Lords, as my noble friend Lady Benjamin said—her tremendous work in this area should be acknowledged in this House—the way in which the Windrush generation has been treated is disgraceful, with some dying before the wrongs they were subjected to could be corrected or compensated. Without commenting on leaks, does the Minister agree that a failure to implement all the recommendations of the independent Williams review would add insult to injury for the African-Caribbean community?

The minister did not take the opportunity:

Tempting though it is to travel down that line of answer proffered by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, I am afraid that would amount to commenting on the leaks, and I do not propose to do so.

This really doesn’t sound like a Government in a hurry to sort out one of the most disgraceful mistakes it has made, which led to people being wrongly deported after spending most of their lives in the UK, to seriously ill people being denied NHS medical treatment or denied access to housing, driving licences and other Government services. This will not be the last we hear from Floella and Brian on this issue.

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