First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined the Scottish Government’s commitment to maximise its contribution to the UK Government’s community sponsorship scheme, whilst emphasising it must provide more clarity on how the scheme will work.
It is expected that Ukrainians will be able to apply to come to the UK if they have been matched with a ‘sponsor’ who will provide accommodation.
In a joint letter to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, the First Minister and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford have proposed that the Scottish and Welsh Governments act as ‘super sponsors’.
This would enable Ukrainians to get clearance to come to Scotland or Wales quickly and be accommodated temporarily, while the Scottish and Welsh governments then work with local partners to provide longer term accommodation (including where appropriate with private individuals who have volunteered rooms), safeguarding and access to services.
The letter makes clear that no cap will be set by Scotland and Wales on the numbers of refugees they will welcome.
As an immediate commitment Scotland has offered to support 3,000 refugees in the initial wave, in line with the numbers that were resettled under the Syrian scheme. Overall, the Scottish Government is committed to welcoming at least a proportionate share of the total number who come to the UK. The letter says it is essential all arrivals have access to public funds including welfare benefits, and are exempted from the Habitual Residence Test for accessing these.
In addition, the First Ministers’ letter calls for urgent clarity on funding arrangements to support local government and suggests a per head funding arrangement similar to the Syrian and Afghanistan schemes to support resettlement and integration costs.
While committed to doing everything possible to make the UK government’s proposed scheme a success, the First Ministers also renewed their call on the UK Government to waive all visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals.
“Those offering a place to stay will be vetted and have to agree to house a refugee for a minimum period.
A senior source in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told the Guardian it was still considering the length of time for which people from Ukrainewill be able to reside in the UK under the scheme.
Details of the new “sponsored” humanitarian refugee route are expected to be revealed on Sunday with a full announcement on Monday by Michael Gove, the communities secretary.
The refugees are expected to be recruited by the Home Office and will require visas in addition to biometric and security checks.”
If you want to offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine, you can become a ‘sponsor’ as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Use this service to register your interest in becoming a sponsor. You can register as an individual or as an organisation.
Fairbnb.coop is creating a platform that can be used by NGOs and humanitarian organisations to find hosts for refugees. The first version will be available in the next few days.
Please fill in the registration form if you can help.