Ahead of responding formally to an address to Council tonight about the Windrush anniversary, Cllr Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, called the treatment of the so-called Windrush generation and their families: “a shameful episode for which the Prime Minister personally needs to accept responsibility along with her Conservative and Lib Dem coalition colleagues who supported a change in the law in 2014 which has directly led to this situation.”
Councillor Brown will say “The nature of this mean spirited and discriminatory policy is that people are not necessarily aware of the problems that they face until they are asked for proof of identity when applying for work, benefits, new access to healthcare or a pension.
Cllr Brown said, “Oxford City Council staff working in our customer services teams have been briefed to do all they can to help people who find themselves in this situation and more information will be put in our next tenants newsletter. We are aware that people are only just beginning to realise their situation.
“We are fortunate in Oxford to have a number of excellent organisations such as Asylum Welcome and Open Door Oxford, and the advice agencies that the City Council supports with funding, who are well placed to give helpful advice and support. I would urge anyone who finds themselves in this situation to contact an advice agency, the City Council or their MP, depending on their circumstances.
“The way the Government has used its immigration laws to discriminate against the Windrush generation is utterly unacceptable and mean spirited. In Oxford we are proud of the huge contribution that they and other Commonwealth citizens have made to our city.
“The City Council was proud to support the combined celebrations of Commonwealth Day and the single act of remembrance in March, recognising the role that Commonwealth citizens played in supporting our country in its hour of greatest need as well as the massive contribution made every single day, in the NHS, in social care, in education, and building up our vibrant local economy.
“Given all that these citizens have done since the Empire Windrush arrived in England seventy years ago to come to our support after the Second World War, you would have thought this Government would want to recognise this and celebrate it in this anniversary year.
“Instead they have denied hard working members of the African Caribbean community their rightful access to health services, benefits and housing, and refused them re-entry to the UK after they visit their relatives in the Caribbean.
“By creating a “hostile environment” for immigrants and treating the Windrush generation so badly, they have again revealed their true colours. They remain the “nasty party” as the current Prime Minister and architect of our immigration laws, Theresa May, memorably described them,” said Cllr Brown.
Cllr Brown is expected to respond to an address by Judith Harley, who is associated with the Oxford African History Celebration.
“We will also want to see Oxford City Council support celebrations of the Windrush anniversary in June. We will work with local community groups to see how we can support their celebrations and recognise the contribution to our city.
“On behalf of the City of Oxford I know that colleagues across the council will want to say “thank you’” to the African Caribbean community, as we do to all the different communities who contribute to the rich diversity of Oxford life.”