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Parliament's Public Accounts Committee says Home Office has failed in its response to the Windrush scandal

Summary:

New report finds the Government is not taking full responsibility to resolve the problems it has caused

Date of Publication:
06 March 2019

Parliament's Public Accounts Committee says Home Office has failed in its response to the Windrush scandal

06 March 2019
EIN

In a report published today, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee criticised the Home Office over its response to the Windrush scandal.

You can read the 24-page report here.

The Committee says in the report: "The Windrush scandal demonstrates a combination of a lack of concern about the realworld impact of the Home Office's immigration policies compounded by a systemic failure to keep accurate records, meaning many people who are British Citizens or have leave to remain in the UK do not have the paperwork to prove it. The Home Office was aware of this through case enquiries from citizens and their MPs. Yet, the department failed in its duty to protect the rights of people to live, work and access services and benefits in the UK when designing and implementing its immigration policies."

In strongly-worded criticism, the Public Accounts Committee accused the Home Office of being complacent and not taking full responsibility to resolve the problems it had caused. The report says the Home Office has failed to identify those affected by the Windrush scandal and had denied people the support needed to rebuild their lives.

The report states: "The Department is not taking ownership for resolving individual cases but is instead interpreting its role narrowly and using other departments' remits as a poor excuse for inaction. For example, it has done little to secure urgent housing for members of the Windrush Generation, many of whom are homeless or having to rely on family members, and is content to simply leave this to local authorities which are under significant pressure. It demonstrates a disconnect with the reality facing many local authorities to simply devolve responsibility and assume that the problem is resolved. The Department also lacks any sense of urgency: it has taken 8 months to set up an 'urgent' hardship fund; and its compensation scheme is still not operating, over a year since the Windrush scandal first broke. The Department could not tell us when the scheme would be launched. Many of those in need of help are elderly and vulnerable and cannot afford to wait any longer. Homelessness is an acute issue for those affected requiring urgent action."

Meg Hillier MP, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: "The human consequences of this appalling scandal are tragic and well-documented. But there is a long way to go before the Home Office can credibly claim to have put things right

She continued: "It is deeply regrettable that a scandal of this magnitude, on the back of repeated and unheeded warnings, does not appear to have fully shaken the Home Office out of its complacency about its systemic and cultural problems. This must change now.

"Our report sets out action the Home Office should take to put right the wrongs of Windrush, properly address potential cases in the wider Commonwealth and ensure the Department's systems are fit for purpose in future. We expect a swift and positive response to our recommendations."

In response to the report, a Home Office spokesperson told the Guardian: "The Home Secretary and Immigration Minister have been resolute in their determination to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation and have commissioned a 'lessons learned' review with independent oversight and scrutiny to establish what went wrong and prevent it happening again.

"The taskforce has helped thousands of people of different nationalities prove their status in the UK. Through the Windrush scheme, 3,400 people have obtained British citizenship. In addition, the taskforce has a dedicated vulnerable persons' team', which has provided support to over 600 people including referrals to the Department for Work and Pensions for benefit claims and advice and support on housing."