Barking MP challenges home secretary Priti Patel over Windrush scandal compensation claim delay

Dame Margaret Hodge urged the home secretary Priti Patel to explain a delay in Windrush scandal comp

Dame Margaret Hodge urged the home secretary Priti Patel to explain a delay in Windrush scandal compensation for her constituent Sarah O'Connor. Picture: Brent Council - Credit: Archant

The family of a deceased Windrush scandal victim has been waiting almost two years for compensation.

Margaret Hodge MP. Picture: PA

Margaret Hodge MP. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Sarah O’Connor, who lived in Barking, came to Britain in the 1960s at the age of six as part of the Windrush generation.

At the age of 56, the grandmother was made redundant and told she had no right to live and work in the UK.

With no income, she was forced to sell her car and was issued with an eviction notice by her landlord.

In an email during that time to her MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, Sarah wrote: “I don’t think I have the strength to keep going any more”.

Home secretary Priti Patel. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

Home secretary Priti Patel. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA. - Credit: PA

In 2018, she was finally granted British citizenship, but she died in September last year at the age of 57.

Dame Margaret demanded an explanation why Sarah’s family still hasn’t received compensation following home secretary Priti Patel’s statement on Tuesday, June 23, to the House of Commons, a day after Windrush Day.

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In her statement, Ms Patel said she was determined to “right the wrongs and injustices” suffered by the Windrush Generation, vowing to do everything she could to make sure more people are compensated in full and act on recommendations in a review into the scandal.

She confirmed £1million has been offered so far and the rate of claims has “increased significantly” in the last few months. By the end of March, more than £360,000 had been awarded.

The Barking MP, during questions following the speech, said: “We have been pursuing [Sarah’s] compensation claim for almost two years and I have to say to the home secretary that complexity is not a good enough explanation for the delay.”

Dame Margaret urged Ms Patel to explain whether the delay was a “deliberate element of her government’s hostile environment policy” or evidence of the Home Office being “simply dysfunctional”.

Ms Patel replied she was aware of Sarah’s case and understood her claim is being considered.

“There’s nothing deliberate about complexity,” Ms Patel chided. “The compensation scheme was set up in conjunction with the Windrush Generation based on the need that they themselves outlined and that is the right approach.

“It does take time but every single claim is handled in a very bespoked (sic) way by an individual case handler.”

The home secretary invited Dame Margaret to take up the case with her directly.

The Windrush scandal saw people wrongly detained, denied their legal rights, threatened with deportation, and in some cases wrongly deported from the UK.