Homes for Ukraine website launched but no start date unless people know refugee’s name
A government website where Brits can register to take refugees from Ukraine home has been launched – but a key detail of the scheme was missing today.
The Homes for Ukraine website opened this afternoon for people to express their interest in hosting a family fleeing Ukraine. Refugees will be able to live, work and apply for benefits in the UK for three years with a sponsorship visa – up from 12 months with a previous wish.
While visa applications under the scheme will open on Friday, they will only be restricted to people who know by name the Ukrainian(s) they intend to host, reports the Mirror. Those wishing to host a refugee, but do not know any Ukrainians, cannot yet be matched with those coming to the UK.
Sponsors offering a spare room will have to guarantee accommodation for at least six months, in return for being paid £350 a month by the government. Matching foreigners with those who want to give refugees a home will happen in the future, but leveling secretary Michael Gove was unable to name a date when this would start.
He told MPs: “Because we want the program to be up and running as soon as possible, Homes for Ukraine will initially facilitate sponsorship between people with known connections. We will quickly expand the program in a phased manner with organizations charities, churches and community groups to ensure that many more potential sponsors can be matched with Ukrainians who need help, and we of course work closely with the devolved administrations to ensure that their kind Offers of help are also mobilized.
Pressed for a timeline, he said only “we are working this week with civil society” and “we will update the house in real time over the next few days”. Government sources told the Mirror it was a sensible approach as matching Britons with refugees would take time.
But Shadow Leveling-Up secretary Lisa Nandy said, “A press release is not a plan and we are deeply concerned about the lack of urgency.” She raised concerns about Ukrainian families being matched with sponsors and claimed the government was suggesting people advertise on Instagram through a “DIY asylum program”.
She told the House of Commons: ‘During his visit to the television studios, he repeatedly suggested that people who wish to sponsor a Ukrainian family should present themselves to the government with the name of that family who will then approve it. . He can’t seriously ask Ukrainian families fleeing Vladimir Putin, who left their homes with nothing, to take to Instagram and come forward in the hope that a British family might notice them. Is that really the extent of this diet?
In Your Area offers news and events tailored to the zip code where you live.