On the car crash of a performance Matthew Rycroft gave in his evidence to the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee on the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

First published in October 2020.

We live-tweeted the evidence of Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, at the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee chaired by Meg Hillier MP and featuring Yvette Cooper MP (chair of the Commons’ Home Affairs Committee) precisely 22 days ago. Mr Rycroft was giving evidence on the Windrush Compensation Scheme. Badly.

In the private sector, turning up to a board meeting this poorly briefed would be unprofessional at least and sackable at worst.

Matthew Rycroft and his Home Office colleagues didn’t have basic numbers (which are published) or facts, and didn’t seem embarrassed about it.

It wasn’t just us, biased as we obviously are, who thought that. Meg Hillier MP and Yvette Cooper MP wrote to the Home Office shortly after, requesting all the data and clarifications that couldn't be given at the session.

In the twenty minutes of substantive questioning on the Compensation Scheme, Matthew Rycroft promised to write to Hillier and Cooper at least 9 times, on each occasion having been unable to answer basic questions like “What is the average payment?” or “What is the average time taken to pay claims?”

We were pretty enraged by this because it shows how little the Home Office cares about the scheme; how callous it is about the amount of pain and anguish it is putting claimants through; and, very likely, how it handling claims.

We promised you a thread, in which we were going to vent our collective spleens on the matter. But something snapped. Threads are great fun, but sometimes not enough. And we ARE British after all. So we levelled up – to a strongly worded letter.

We thought it would be most productive to (i) answer the questions Matthew Rycroft could not; and (ii) expand on certain issues, heading off some of the weak-brewed, half-correct bilge with which the Home Office will likely revert to Hillier and Cooper anon.

So we have. Here it is. If this subject is of any interest to you at all, we would ask that you read it, because some analytical effort went into this that may later be useful to you, especially if you are a claimant or solicitor.

This has been sent to Yvette Cooper and Meg Hillier in the hope that it will assist them. It has also been sent to a Home Office representative whose email address we were able to find, in the hope that it will find its way to the desk of Matthew Rycroft.

If, having read this, you feel it is a worthwhile piece of criticism, we have a wee favour to ask – do not just leave it at that. Re-tweet it; send it to others whom it might help or be of interest to; forward it to your MP and anyone you know at the Home Office.

It is worth noting that the Home Office does not only treat Windrush victims with this level of contempt; a similarly disengaged performance was given by Rycroft et al before the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee on the issue of Priti Patel’s megalomaniacal maybe-plans for asylum seekers.

Our government is cruel, incoherent and incompetent, and does not care who knows it. We should remind it that we are watching and keeping score. Feel free to take this letter, add epithets if you like, and send it to whomever it might inconvenience.🔷

PS.1. We are still fundraising for Anthony – please donate if you can.

PS.2. Matthew Rycroft has now replied to our letter, attaching this response which had been sent to the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee on 25 September. He also offers written responses to our questions and the prospect of a meeting (which would be with a group of claimants, not just us).

Windrush Lives, Group seeking justice and reparations for Windrush victims persecuted by the ‘hostile environment’.


Check their Voting Record:

🗳️ Meg Hillier

🗳️ Yvette Cooper

🗳️ Priti Patel

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 4 October 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: NDLA/Corbis, STN scanpix. - Jamaican Immigrants to Britain in 1948. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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