Twenty-one victims of the Windrush scandal have died before receiving compensation from the government.
Of the 1,996 total applications, home secretary Priti Patel said “we are aware of 21 cases to date where unfortunately the claimant has passed away after having submitted a claim but before receiving compensation”.
Patel revealed this in response to a House of Commons “written question” at the end of last month from SNP MP Stuart McDonald, having previously refused to answer it. Yahoo News UK has approached McDonald for comment.
The Windrush compensation scheme has been criticised for slow processing times: more than 200 applicants have been waiting for more than 18 months.
Earlier this year, 64-year-old Windrush campaigner Paulette Wilson died just weeks after delivering a petition to Downing Street calling for action to address the failings that led to the scandal and to demand swift compensation for victims.
Wilson, from Wolverhampton, came to Britain from Jamaica aged 10 in the late 1960s. She spent two years under the threat of deportation as a result of the Windrush scandal.
Friends said she died “a broken woman” and had been struggling to fill out complex claim forms.
The BBC had previously reported, in November last year, that at least nine people had died before receiving compensation.
In her answer on 29 April, in which she said 21 applicants have died before receiving compensation, Patel added: “We are working closely with the families and legal representatives to determine the right person to whom the compensation can be paid as quickly as possible.”
She also said staff working on the scheme are “working hard to ensure that where they are aware of claimants with critical or life shortening illnesses, that their cases are prioritised”.
The scheme was set up in 2019, in the wake of the 2018 Windrush scandal where British citizens – mostly from the Caribbean – were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in Britain.
Many people lost homes and jobs and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.
Watch: Home secretary announces higher Windrush payouts (from December 2020)
In December last year, Patel announced an "overhaul" of the compensation scheme, with minimum payments rising from £250 to £10,000 and maximum payments from £10,000 to £100,000.
She also promised people will receive compensation "much more quickly", though the latest Home Office statistics show exactly 500 outstanding cases have been unresolved after more than 12 months.
The figures, as of 21 April, showed 281 cases have been active for one year to 18 months, 214 have lasted 18 months to two years, and a further five cases have been active for more than two years.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, has previously branded the low payout rate “disgraceful”, saying in February that the compensation scheme "isn’t worthy of the name".
He added: “The government’s handling of this is heaping insult on top of injustice."
Watch: I felt like an alien, says Windrush scandal victim (from July 2020)