Home Office signs legal agreement to improve practices following Windrush

Published: 01 Apr 2021

The Home Office has signed a legal agreement with us, setting out the actions it will take to address its failure to comply with equality law when implementing ‘hostile environment’ measures.

In November 2020, our assessment found that the Home Office failed to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) when developing, implementing and monitoring the hostile environment policy agenda. In particular, it had neglected to fully consider the impact its policies would have on Black members of the Windrush generation.

This agreement, under section 23 of the Equality Act 2006, commits the Home Office to a two-year action plan of improvements it will make to demonstrate that it:

  • looks for and properly considers evidence and feedback from stakeholders representing affected groups to understand the equality impacts of policies and practices;
  • has a clear understanding of equality data and evidence that it uses to inform decisions and policymaking at all levels, including of the potential and actual impact of the department’s work on different protected characteristic groups; and
  • has taken meaningful action to improve internal knowledge and expertise on how to comply with the PSED.

As part of the action plan Home Office will establish a Community Stakeholder and Engagement Hub and take steps to improve the advice given to Ministers about equality.

Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“The experiences of the Windrush generation must never be repeated, and must never be forgotten. They serve as a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to equality laws, so that no one has to suffer such unjust treatment. 

“When used properly, the PSED is vital in ensuring all public services work effectively for all of their users, regardless of background. By effectively ignoring it when implementing the hostile environment measure, the Home Office’s actions had a profound effect on many people’s lives.

“If we are to be a fair and equal society, then equality and human rights has to be at the core of everything we do. Other Government departments can learn from this lesson, and make sure they are taking all of the appropriate steps to meet their legal obligations and deliver public policy and services that work for everyone.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft said:

"The Windrush generation were repeatedly failed by successive Governments and we have been resolute in our determination to right the wrongs that they suffered.  

“We are pleased to have agreed an ambitious action plan with the EHRC which builds on the work we are doing in response to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review.

“We will continue to work closely with the EHRC on delivering the action plan to ensure mistakes like this never happen again.”

We will monitor and advise on the implementation of the action plan for two years. The plan will also be essential in the Home Office’s response to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. 

If the Home Office does not adhere to the terms of the agreement and implement the action plan, we can take further enforcement action, including applying for a court order requiring the Home Office to comply.   

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