Some potential Windrush scandal victims have been waiting for more than two years to find out if they will win compensation, the Home Office has revealed.
Of the 1,417 compensation claims that are currently being processed, 281 were submitted more than a year ago, the department said.
Of that number, 214 claims have so far taken more than 18 months to process, and five have been in the process for more than 24 months.
Answering a parliamentary written question about processing times for the scheme, which awards compensation to members of the Windrush generation wrongly deported, detained or denied access to public services in the UK, home secretary Priti Patel said her department’s “holistic approach” to evaluating claims “necessarily takes time but is ultimately beneficial to individuals”.
“Windrush compensation scheme staff continue to work hard to resolve these claims from the moment they are received and individuals are provided with an update on the progress of their claim on a monthly basis as a minimum, unless they have requested otherwise,” she said.
The home secretary said the process takes time because “each person’s claim is deeply personal and requires careful and detailed consideration to understand their individual circumstances and experiences”.
“There are 13 different categories of claim and some individuals’ experiences are more complex than others and it is right we take the time to ensure these are considered carefully, ” Patel said.
“We want people to receive the maximum compensation to which they are entitled and work closely with individuals, for example by contacting other government departments and third parties to help gather evidence to support their claim.”
Cases are closed when the claimant accepts a final offer of compensation or if their application is turned down because it is deemed not to meet the criteria for the scheme.
Patel said all compensation claims will have been considered for a preliminary payment of £10,000 within six weeks of the application being deemed eligible.
“A preliminary payment is offered as soon as we receive the minimum level of information required to show that they will be entitled to compensation under the scheme. Some of these people may also have received an urgent and exceptional payment,” Patel said.
As of 25 March, the scheme had offered 362 such preliminary payments totalling £3.62m – an average of £10,000 per person.
Of that figure, 255 awards, worth £2.55m, had been accepted and 228 had been paid.
Patel also pointed to an urgent and exceptional payments process set up in December 2018 to award payments quickly where they were most needed.
However, she confirmed just £104,338.58 has been paid out through the urgent process as of 29 March.
As of February, 409 compensation claims had been paid out, totalling £6.17m – an average of just over £15,000 – according to the latest statistics published by the Home Office.
Two years ago, Patel's predecessor as home secretary, Sajid Javid, said the department expected the scheme to pay out £200m in compensation.
Patel was responding to a parliamentary written question from Stuart McDonald, shadow home affairs spokesperson for the Scottish National Party.
Her comments came a few days after the Home Office announced it had appointed Martin Levermore as independent adviser to the compensation scheme.