Labour slams government for “falling woefully short” on action against racism

Nick Thomas-Symonds has said that the the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted the need “not just to recognise” discrimination but to act, and slammed the government for “falling woefully short on that action”.

Responding to the Priti Patel’s update to parliament on the Windrush lessons learned review today, the Shadow Home Secretary set out concerns on the functioning of the government compensation scheme.

He highlighted that the Home Office only managed to compensate 60 people in the programme’s first year of operation, and called for the government to “get a grip” and be more proactive in supporting those affected.

The Shadow Home Secretary said: “The BLM movement highlighted the need not just to recognise the discrimination and racism that black people continue to face, but to demand action.

“Looking at the failure to act on so many previous reviews, the government is falling woefully short on that action. That’s why we will be holding them to account for delivering the vital changes outlined in this report and to act with the urgency that is required.”

On the scheme, he said: “The review is clear that the Home Office must be more proactive in identifying people affected, putting right any detriment detected, with a focus on identifying people from elsewhere in the Commonwealth who may have been affected.

He asked Patel how many people the Home Office estimates are eligible for the scheme, how many have applied and of those how many are from Commonwealth countries, adding: “Why it is the published number of applicants seems so low given the scale of the injustice?”

Thomas-Symonds also highlighted that the review said the Department should publish “comprehensive improvement plan within six months of this report”, and called on the Home Secretary to therefore publish that plan “immediately”.

The Home Secretary had used her statement in the Commons this afternoon to tell MPs that “over £1.5m has now been offered by the Windrush compensation scheme”. She added that this is “just the beginning”.

The Home Office promised a comprehensive review of the systems and culture within the Department last month when Patel agreed to implement all 30 recommendations outlined in the Windrush lessons learned review.

Since the creation of the Windrush compensation scheme in April 2019, Labour has repeatedly highlighted that the government-run programme is not properly delivering for people affected by the scandal.

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