Last week Michael Gove, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary announced the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
While the UK has already put in place a rigorous sanctions regime targeted at the property and assets of those supporting the Putin regime and expanded the Family Sponsorship Scheme, there was still more to do.
Homes for Ukraine will allow people seeking sanctuary with no family ties to the UK to be sponsored by individuals or organisations who can offer them a home.
The scheme will be uncapped, open to Ukrainian nationals (and immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals). Those arriving through this scheme will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years and also access benefits, healthcare, and other support as they are clearly the dictionary definition of genuine refugees.
Sponsors can be of any nationality, provided they have at least six months’ leave to remain within the UK. In the first phase of the scheme, sponsors will need to have a named person who they wish to sponsor. This could be a friend, or friend of friend, someone they are already connected with, or it could be someone they have been linked with by a charity, faith group or other organisation. The visa application route went live last Friday.
Security and vetting checks for this scheme are important but must be proportionate. I put this directly to Michael Gove in the Commons and was pleased that he was able to confirm that the Government would make the process as straightforward as possible while ensuring the safety of all involved. Those arriving will therefore need to meet standard security checks. Those living in the sponsoring households will also be subject to security checks and may be subject to safeguarding checks too.
Any individual, charity, community group and business across the country can record their interest at gov.uk/homes-for-ukraine.
Local councils playing their part will be provided with the appropriate funding and an additional top-up for child education, to enable them to provide much wider support to families to rebuild their lives and fully integrate into communities.