Thank you for contacting me about the Windrush generation.
Commonwealth citizens, like the Windrush generation, are a unique group who have built their life here and have contributed enormously to our country. I do not want anyone to be in any doubt about their right to remain here.
When these people came to the UK they were deemed to be settled in the UK under our legislation at the time. This meant some did not get nor need documentation to prove their right to be here. While the vast majority who came before 1973 will now have got documentation that proves their right to be in the UK, there have recently been some cases where people have not obtained the necessary documentation and have struggled to access public services.
This issue has come to light because of measures introduced in recent years to make sure only those with a legal right to live here can access services like NHS treatment and rented accommodation. This has resulted in some people now needing to evidence their immigration status.
To ensure this can happen as easily and smoothly as possible, the Home Office has set up a new dedicated team to help those people evidence their right to be here. The team will help applicants demonstrate they are entitled to live in the UK, have a dedicated contact point, and will be tasked with resolving cases within two weeks of when the evidence has been provided. In addition, no one affected will be charged for the documentation which proves their right to be here.
The Government recognises some of these people may struggle to evidence when they arrived and how long they have been in the UK, so this dedicated team will work across government to help people provide the evidence they need. Any information they can provide, from schools they attended to places of work will help build this picture.
As both the prime minister and Home Secretary have made clear these issues should not have occurred. I have twice questioned the Home Secretary on this issue on the floor of the Commons. In response to a question from me the Home Secretary confirmed that Home Office will do all it can to ensure that the changes they have made are communicated effectively to the communities effected – they are already engaging with charities and High Commissions to achieve this objective. An apology has been issued and compensation will be paid where appropriate – I received a positive response from the Home Secretary to my request that the compensation scheme is broadly consulted on before it is introduced so we can ensure it reflects the view of those effected.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.