Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she is ‘pleased’ with what the Home Office has achieved, despite a damning report highlighting only eight out of 30 recommendations, to shift the department’s culture, have been made in two years.
The Home Office has been blasted for exaggerating the progress made to shift its internal culture in the wake of the Windrush scandal.
The Home Secretary boasted she is “proud” of the efforts made to make her department more compassionate – despite a critical report blasting the lack of progress.
It comes after a damning review led by Wendy Williams found the Windrush scandal was “foreseeable and avoidable”.
The initial report published by Ms Williams in 2020 found victims were let down by “systemic operational failings” at the Home Office.
The department’s “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness” towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation were heavily criticised and Ms Williams made 30 recommendations for change.
Birmingham Mail/Darren Quinton)
But only eight of the 30 recommendations have been fully implemented in the last two years.
“Much more progress is required in policymaking and casework, which will be seen as the major indicators of improvement,” she wrote in the report.
“I have seen limited evidence that a compassionate approach is being embedded consistently across the department.”
She acknowledged some progress made by the department but concluded the Home Office is at a “tipping point”.
While Ms Williams acknowledged some “impressive activity” she expressed “disappointed” by the lack of “drive to achieve cultural changes”.
“There are several areas where very good progress has been made… in relation to aspects of the development and roll-out of training in relation to immigration history and improving aspects of operational practice” among seven other recommendations.
But she added: “The next stage will be crucial in determining whether it has the capacity and capability to make good on its ambitions ‘to build a Home Office fit for the future, one that serves every corner of society…[with] a long-term focus on wholesale and lasting cultural change’.”
The department was urged to appoint a migrants’ commissioner to “sign post systemic risks”. This has not been completed.
Despite the criticisms, Ms Patel said: “I am pleased with what we’ve achieved in the last two years and that Wendy Williams has recognised this is a different department from the one she originally saw.
“I have laid the foundations for radical change in the department and a total transformation of culture. We have already made significant progress and Wendy highlights many achievements, including the work we have put into becoming a more compassionate and open organisation.
“Having said that, there is more to do and I will not falter in my commitment to everyone who was affected by the Windrush scandal.
“Many people suffered terrible injustices at the hands of successive Governments and I will continue working hard to deliver a Home Office worthy of every community we serve.”
Last week, another report found the Windrush compensation scheme – which offers payouts to victims affected by the scandal – has “structural weaknesses” and needs reform so it can be “efficient and effective”.
Martin Levermore, the Government’s independent adviser on Windrush, acknowledged there had been criticism of the scheme from a “variety of quarters” but said overall that it is “delivering”.
The latest figures show the Home Office had paid out more than £37 million on 993 claims by the end of February, out of a total 3,618 claims submitted so far.
Some 285 claims have been made for people who have already died and only 14 have currently resulted in payments so far.