Home Office seeks independent adviser to Windrush compensation scheme

Recruitment will fulfil department's April 2019 commitment for independent oversight of scheme that has settled less than 20% of claims so far
A 2018 protest calling for an end to the hostile environment policy. Photo: Catherine Wylie/PA Archive/PA Images

The Home Office is seeking an independent adviser to provide “oversight and reassurance” on the Windrush compensation scheme.

The department is offering £12,600 for a “permanent independent person” to scrutinise how well the scheme, set up in April 2019 to compensate members of the Windrush generation and their families who were wrongly deported, detained or denied access to services, is working.

The recruitment process comes over a year after the Home Office pledged to appoint the adviser in a response to its own consultation on the scheme, published the same month the scheme opened.

The adviser will provide “independent advice on the strategy and deliverability of the scheme, scrutinising its performance and challenging how well it is achieving its objectives”.

The compensation scheme is expected to eventually pay out £200m to people hit by the Windrush scandal.

But data released at the end of July showed that well over a year after the scheme launched, it had paid out just £1.185m. By that point, 1,392 claims had been made to the scheme, but only 221 payments had been made.

No claims had yet been rejected on eligibility grounds, and in only 31 cases had the Home Office determined the claimant was not entitled to any compensation – suggesting most claims were still ongoing. 

The department did not start paying out compensation until the last quarter of 2019-20, after then-permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam was given a ministerial direction to release the funds before legislation was passed.

Launching the recruitment process yesterday, the Home Office said the new adviser will lead a “range of outreach work and engagement sessions” with community groups to promote the scheme, and ensure the department is proactively seeking and encouraging people to apply for compensation.

They will play an “integral role” in the scheme’s governance, sitting on its oversight board and the Windrush cross-government working group.

And they will produce reports on the scheme’s delivery and performance for the home secretary, providing recommendations on how it can better meet its objectives.

“The successful candidate will possess excellent communication skills, coupled with a personal and professional demeanour that generates trust and confidence in others, including those from the diverse communities that have been affected,” a job advert for the appointment said.

“They will be able to analyse complex issues and have the ability to constructively challenge and influence strategy and decision making,” it added. 

Applicants must have “undisputed personal integrity”, as well as experience of working with communities and people that have been personally affected by the Windrush scandal.

And they must have financial, audit and risk management skills and the ability to ensure money is used properly.

Applications for the 36-day-a-year role close on 21 September. Final interviews will take place on the week commencing 2 November, with an appointment expected some time thereafter.

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