Home Office looks to hire post-Windrush independent complaints examiner

Department offers £95K a year for part-time watchdog who will report directly to permanent secretary
The Home Office, in Marsham Street, London. Photo: Steph Gray/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

By Jim Dunton

21 Dec 2021

The Home Office is setting up an “independent complaints examiner” function as part of its response to the Windrush scandal and is offering £95,000 a year to the first holder of the post.

A recruitment campaign for the new watchdog says the examiner will be “an independent route for customers who are not happy with the department’s initial response to their complaint” and a “figurehead for continual service learning and improvement across the department”.

The Home Office said the independent complaints examiner would work for two-to-three days a week and be supported by a secretariat based in Stoke-on-Trent. They will not have to manage the secretariat during their three-year term, and will report directly to Home Office perm sec Matthew Rycroft.

The department’s advertisement for the role said prospective candidates would need experience of senior-level leadership gained in a relevant environment and experience of leading large-scale operations involving casework and complaints management.

It said important skills for the role included: “a high level of integrity, impartiality and fair-mindedness”; “a demonstrable commitment to promoting equality and diversity”; and the ability to manage “difficult conversations”.

The Home Office said the independent complaints examiner function was being created as part of its response to Wendy Williams’ Windrush Lessons Learned Review.

The review followed the revelation that the department’s “hostile environment” policy had led to many people from Commonwealth countries being denied their rights, and some British citizens who were members of the Windrush generation being wrongly deported.

Williams said she was unable to make a definitive finding of institutional racism within the Home Office. However, she voiced “serious concerns” that the department’s failings demonstrated “an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation” that were “consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism”.

She said the causes of the scandal could be traced back through policy and legislation decisions dating back to the 1960s and that warning signs were “simply not heeded by officials and ministers”.

The watchdog role is open to applications until 11pm on 10 January 2022.

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