Compensation promised to Windrush families who 'suffered loss'

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons in London Monday

Members of the Windrush generation who arrived in the United Kingdom before 1973 and have stayed to build a life here will be eligible for free citizenship, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced today (Monday 23 April).

"The state has let these people down", Rudd said.

After days of damaging headlines and repeated apologies, the home secretary sought to draw a line under this scandal with a series of significant concessions.

She said: "I'm personally committed to tackling illegal migration because I have seen in this job the awful impact has on some of the most vulnerable in our society".

She also confirmed that a compensation scheme will be set up for people who have suffered loss or damage due to their inability to show they remained in Britain legally and to access services. There would also be a new customer support centre for people trying to navigate the immigration system.

Ms Rudd apologised again for changes to immigration rules - dubbed the "hostile environment" policy - which she said had had an "unintended and devastating" impact on the Windrush generation.

Rudd said fees for any children of the generation who wanted to apply for naturalisation would be dropped.

Ms Rudd told the House of Commons fees for any children of the Windrush generation who need to apply for naturalisation and charges associated with returning to the United Kingdom for people who have retired to their countries of origin after making their lives here would also be waived.

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Although they were regarded as British citizens at the time, they did not have the paperwork to prove it.

The fees and the documentation had been particularly hard to provide, she said, and she was "so happy" with this move - but still felt annoyed by the saga.

Rudd said all interior ministry records dating back to 2002 would be checked to see if anyone had been wrongly deported, but no cases had been identified so far with about half of the documents verified.

"It is only right that the significant contribution the Windrush generation have made to the United Kingdom is recognised", said Rudd, who answered questions on the scandal in parliament.

"This is a failure by successive governments to ensure these individuals have the documentation they need and this is what we must urgently put right".

"She is behaving as if it is a shock to her that officials are implementing regulations in the way she intended them to be implemented".

"I hope that the measures I announced today will begin to reassure people as to their position and their valued status in this country", Rudd said.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott described the incident as "one of the biggest scandals in the administration of home affairs" and pointed the finger at Ms Rudd, saying: "Ultimately the buck stops with her".

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