PRITI Patel must hire more staff to process compensation claims for Windrush victims, MPs have urged. 

The Home Secretary faced furious criticism today after it emerged just 60 people had been compensated for their treatment at the hands of the Home Office.

The Windrush scandal, which was uncovered in 2018, came as a result of Theresa May's so-called "hostile-environment policy" and saw many people who have been living in the UK for decades, threatened with deportation, detention, losing their homes and jobs. 
Many affected were children of the 'Windrush generation' - people who arrived in the country between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries.

HeraldScotland: Historic arrival - the Windrush brought immigrants from the Caribbean to the UK in 1948


Ms Patel announced that more than £1m in compensation had now been offered to victims, but acknowledged that the speed of claims processing was "too slow" .

She said: "The rate of claims has already increased significantly in the last few months. 
As of the end of March, more than £360,000 had been awarded, and further offers had been made of approximately £280,000.

"I can confirm today that over £1million has been offered and more payments and offers are being made each week."

When challenged by Labour's Nick Thomas-Symonds MP on why just 60 people had been compensated, with more than 1000 waiting for their claims to be processed, Ms Patel said: "I agree, the payments and the way in which payments have been made have been far too slow.

“I’m not apologising for that at all, I have outlined in my statement that it is right that we treat each individual with the respect and dignity they deserve. These are complicated cases.”

Labour's chairwoman of the home affairs committee Yvette Cooper called on Ms Patel to boost the staffing of the compensation unit.

She said: “In our Windrush committee report two years ago, we raised four personal cases of injustice, but sadly two of them have since died without receiving anything at all" 

Ms Cooper added that "keeping people in limbo" was compounding "the injustice they have already felt." 

In response Ms Patel said: “She is right with the two claims that she has just mentioned, I have the details in front of me of one of them in particular where the actual claim is going through the quality assurance process, that has taken time… I am reviewing all the claims myself.”

She added: “I have been specifically told by the Home Office, by the permanent secretary overseeing this that additional resources are not required for that team and that is something that I check every single week.”

During the debate, the SNP's Justice and Home Affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry urged Ms Patel to end the "hostile environment policy" for good.

An Independent review by solicitor Wendy Williams released in March was critical of the policy operated by successive governments to tackle illegal immigration.
Ms Williams’ report concluded that the Home Office had shown “ignorance and thoughtlessness” on the issue of race when some people were incorrectly told that they did not have the right to be in Britain.

Ms Cherry, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West said:  "SNP justice and home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry called for a “root and branch review” of the policy.

She said: “What happened was a direct result of the hostile environment policy. The Government must know that and yet, before dealing with Wendy Williams’ recommendations, they have pressed ahead with plans to extend the reach of the hostile environment policy to European Union citizens in the immigration Bill.

"It is all very well to agree that black lives matter, but actions speak louder than words, and the reality is that many of this Government’s immigration policies continue to have disproportionate impacts on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. If the Home Secretary does not carry out a root and branch review of the hostile environment policy, this will continue."

Ms Patel replied that the cause of the scandal "can be traced back to the 1960s and 1980s" and said she would later inform MPs how the review recommendations would be implemented.