Windrush Justice Clinic launches research report on unmet need for legal advice for Windrush Compensation Scheme claimants
Marc Bloomfield
Description: Windrush Justice Clinic logo
On 15 June 2022, the Windrush Justice Clinic (WJC) launched its preliminary research report, The Windrush Compensation Scheme: unmet need for legal advice, at the University of Westminster’s Regent Street Campus.
At the event, Glenda Caesar, Windrush scandal victim, survivor and campaigner, spoke about the difficulties victims faced when making claims without legal support. Two of the authors of the report, Lily Lewis, a barrister at Garden Court North Chambers, and Hysha Smith, a paralegal at Tim Johnson/Law, presented their findings. Martin Forde QC, former independent adviser to the Windrush Compensation Scheme (WCS), also spoke about his recommendations, including that legal aid should be made available for claimants.
The aim of the research was to obtain a better understanding of the unmet need for legal advice among those who have been affected by the Windrush scandal, to map existing legal advice provision and to inform the development of the WJC to ensure that we continue to deliver support to those who most need it.
The research included:
a review of existing literature, research and Home Office data;
analysis of data collected by the WJC into client outcomes;
a review of existing sources of legal advice; and
analysis of responses to a questionnaire sent to individuals impacted by the Windrush scandal.
We found that:
the WCS application process is too complex for claimants to complete alone;
the limited support provided by the Home Office (through We Are Digital) is inadequate;
legal advice is essential for claimants to prepare applications, gather evidence and pursue reviews;
other than the WJC and its partner organisations, there are very few providers of free legal advice; and
it is highly likely that there are high levels of unmet need for legal advice among possible claimants.
No legal aid is available for WCS claims. While exceptional case funding has been granted for some Windrush status claims, to date we are not aware of anyone obtaining such funding for a compensation claim, even though they can be complex and require expert evidence where the heads of loss are extensive.
The WJC’s own data shows the substantial increases on the awards offered to claimants achieved with legal support. For example, one client supported by North Kensington Law Centre appealed an offer of £14,248.88 and, as a result, received a final award of £97,457.00.
The report also contains a number of recommendations for further research, including to consider the extent to which the WCS retraumatises claimants. The trauma and distress experienced by claimants due to the Home Office handling of the scheme was a theme that came out very strongly in the qualitative research. One participant described their experience of the WCS as follows:
From my experiences with the Windrush Compensation Scheme/Home Office, and their responses to my claim, it is almost like they are telling me the following: ‘We are really, really, sorry for punching you in the face, however, we are sure you’ve recovered now, it wasn’t that bad of a punch, so here is another punch in the face, but don’t worry about that one, because you’ve already recovered, please accept some tape and cotton wool to make a plaster out of’ (see page 36 of the report).
Victims and campaigners have called for the WCS to be removed from the Home Office and run by an independent body.

About the author(s)

Description: Catherine Evans - author
Catherine Evans is a senior lecturer and the director of the London South Bank University Legal Advice Clinic.
Description: Anna Steiner - author
Anna Steiner is a senior lecturer and solicitor at the University of Westminster Legal Advice Clinic.