Nick Thomas-Symonds has criticised the government for being too slow to respond in compensating the victims of the Windrush scandal, declaring that “the time for action is now”.
The Shadow Home Secretary made the comments in response to Priti Patel’s statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, in which she claimed that the government scheme had offered more than £1m in compensation.
Thomas-Symonds declared that “that rate of progress is just too slow” and highlighted that the government programme had only managed to compensate 60 people since its creation.
He said it was “little wonder” that the country had seen such a strong reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks, given that “compounded injustices over generations have created deep frustrations and hurt”.
Commenting on the Windrush review, he said: “The Wendy Williams lessons learned review is a damning indictment… The review sets out 30 important review and recommendations a number of which speak to a deeply worrying culture that’s been allowed to develop over the last ten years.
“And frankly it’s shameful that one of the recommendations calls for the department to develop a clear purpose, mission and value statement rooted in fairness, humanity, openness, diversity and inclusions and that such a statement was not in place already.”
The review was announced by the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid in May 2018, and reported with recommendations in March last year. Labour has since been calling for the government to implement those recommendations.
Thomas-Symonds added that “we have to see far more in the way of action from this government to give the impression that they actually take this issue seriously” and concluded that the government “too often calls for reviews” instead of acting.
He said: “The Home Secretary talked about more progress today but she must know that that rate of progress is just too slow given the number of years that have elapsed since this scandal first came to light – and already this scheme has been in operation for over a year.”
Turning to Boris Johnson’s recent announcement, he added: “It’s little wonder that the reception was so bad for the Prime Minister’s announcement of yet another review on racial inequality when the case for urgent action and the steps needed are abundantly clear.
“The reality is that yet again the Prime Minister was found wanting at an important national moment. It’s always words, not action.”
The Home Secretary used her oral statement to the House today to announce that the government will be accepting the recommendations of the Wendy Williams review in full.