A job application for a £35,000 arts consultant to work on the Government’s controversial Windrush memorial was today described as an “insult” by campaigners.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been advertising a 19-month contract for an adviser to create a list of potential artists to create a memorial at Waterloo station.
The memorial, commissioned by former Prime Minister Theresa May, has proved controversial with members of the Windrush community. Some argue it is a slap in the face for the victims of the 2018 scandal who are still waiting for compensation.
Arthur Torrington, the chair of the Windrush Foundation, told the Standard that the job posting was an “insult”.
He added: “The Government is pushing this thing to do with the monument thinking that it will appease the Caribbean community, they are insulting them really.
“It’s an insult to the people who are claiming compensation. One lady in particular they’ve offered her a pittance for being out of the job for ten years.
“Moving ahead with a monument when they haven’t even provided compensation for the victims – how can they do that? How can there be a monument? What will the monument represent – victory for the Government? It’s all a political stunt.”
He added: “It was quite a surprise. There has been no consultancy or consulting with the Caribbean community at all.”
MPs point out that the art consultant role is four times the amount of the average Windrush compensation pay-out to victims of the crisis.
According to the most available figures up to August this year, £1,343,408 has been paid out to 168 victims – an average of almost £8,000 each.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham, said: “This latest revelation highlights the Government’s continuing failure to listen to victims of the Windrush Scandal and its hostile environment.
“To spend public money on a monument without the full consent of the Windrush community – many of whom are yet to see any compensation – whilst keeping the same harmful immigration policies in place, just shows the Government has got its priorities all wrong.”
Karen Doyle, national organiser of pressure group Movement for Justice, has been campaigning to expand the Windrush Scheme to include descendants of the Windrush generation.
She said: “There’s nothing inherently wrong with memorials or statues, they’re just way less important than the people who are still suffering, still uncompensated and the descendants of the Windrush generation whose immigration status is still questioned.”
The application, which closes today, states that it expects the successful applicant to come up with an artist’s brief, gather proposed designs and sift through applications.
The job specification states: “This project aims to ensure that people of Caribbean descent see that the Government is keen to support and thank them, their descendants and forebears for their substantial contribution to the UK economically, socially and culturally. It will also help communities become more confident through embracing positive aspects of their shared identity.”
Some campaigners have launched a bid for an alternative memorial which would involve retrieving the anchor from the shipwrecked HMT Empire Windrush to turn it into a monument.
The Windrush generation were invited to the UK to fill jobs, including in the NHS and on public transport.
But decades later, some of them were incorrectly deported and detained as part of the Windrush scandal when they were incorrectly accused of being in Britain illegally. Amber Rudd was forced to step down as home secretary during the scandal.
A Government spokesperson said: “The Waterloo monument will be a fitting and lasting commemoration of the outstanding contributions of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.
“We also recognise the importance of ensuring that members of the Windrush generation receive compensation which is why we created the Windrush Compensation Scheme.
“This has so far paid out or offered more than £2.5 million and we have also held 120 engagement and outreach events and surgeries to ensure we are reaching people to get the support and compensation they deserve.”