Black Disabled People and the Windrush scandal

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2019 National Disabled Members' Conference
11 July 2019

Conference condemns the Home Office’s politically motivated decision to classify thousands of long-term British residents as illegal immigrants, forcing many of them out of their jobs and homes, and in extreme cases, resulting in detention and deportation.

Conference notes that many victims of the Windrush scandal are Black disabled people and the impact of the “hostile environment” the Home Office created has been particularly damaging for them.

If they could not provide multiple evidence for every year they had been in the UK, some disabled people were denied vital healthcare and others were forced to pay back disability benefits, pushing them into significant debt and homelessness. One Black disabled woman who has lived in the UK for 62 years was sent a bill for £33,000 by the government to claw back her past disability benefits and was threatened with deportation.

For some victims of the Windrush scandal, their treatment resulted in severe mental distress and other stress related health conditions. Denied access to the NHS, including for cancer treatment, there are reports of some victims dying before they could prove their right to citizenship. One Londoner, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer was refused NHS medical treatment because of his immigration status and billed £54,000.

Conference further notes that a year after the government promised to put right its “appalling” treatment of the Windrush generation and committed to reform the Home Office, many of those affected by the scandal remain in acute financial difficulties. None of the “hostile environment” legislation introduced by Teresa May when she was Home Secretary has been repealed and immigration charities say there has been no change in the department’s culture.

For Black disabled people of the Windrush generation who were deprived of their jobs, healthcare, benefits and freedom, the compensation process involves submitting further proof and can be inaccessible for disabled people. Only a small number of victims have received emergency compensation and none from the full Windrush Compensation Scheme as at July 2019. There is also widespread concern that any compensation received will not actually cover losses. In addition, although the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the scheme with a promise that there would be no cap on payments, it has since emerged that there are fixed amounts that can be claimed for different losses which still amounts to a cap.

Conference therefore instructs the National Disabled Members Committee to work with the National Black Members Committee to:

1)Support relevant and appropriate campaigns to repeal legislation that created the “hostile environment”

2)Liaise with appropriate victims’ and campaign organisations to seek to ensure the needs of Black disabled victims are being addressed in the compensation process and to campaign against any form of capping

3)Report back to National Disabled Members Conference 2019.