'Relatively low' number of refugees have arrived via Homes For Ukraine scheme

150,000 households have signed up to the scheme, but questions have been raised over bureaucracy involved
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By Noa Hoffman

29 Mar 2022

The number of Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the UK under the government’s ‘homes for Ukraine’ scheme is “relatively low”, a minister has admitted.

Minister for children and families Will Quince said that just over 1,000 displaced Ukrainians have made it to the UK through the visa route which requires someone from the Ukraine to arrange to stay in the home of a UK sponsor.

More than 150,000 people are believed to have registered their interest in the scheme. According to The Times, fewer than one in ten applications have been approved. 

“The numbers are relatively low at the moment in terms of people coming over here, but many many are in progress,” Quince told Sky News

“I want to thank from the bottom of my heart everyone who’s reached out seeing those terrible scenes in Ukraine and is offering up their home,” he added.

The homes for Ukraine scheme was established earlier this month by the Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities following backlash over the UK's limited support for Ukrainian refugees compared to the rest of Europe. 

Under the scheme individuals and organisations can sign up to house Ukrainians who do not have family ties to the UK.

Individuals who offer accommodation to a refugee receive £350 a month from the government to cover costs and will be told not to charge rent to the person staying in their home. 

Local authorities are handed £10,000 per person who is settled in their area.

So far 150,000 households in the UK have signed up to the scheme, but questions have been raised over the bureaucracy involved, slowing down the process. 

UK sponsors of Ukrainian refugees have told CSW sister title PoliticsHome of lengthy delays and a "ludicrous" online visa application process that has left people stranded in Ukraine as they wait for updates.

A sponsor who spoke to PoliticsHome described a "complicated" visa process which demands mothers leaving the country with a child to provide proof of consent from the father during the application process, causing some families to be stuck in Ukraine while they work through documentation. 

A separate visa route for Ukrainian refugees, which enables UK residents to bring family members from Ukraine to the UK, has led to the arrival of 23,000 people, 8,000 of which are children. 

Despite fewer than 2,000 people having arrived on British soil under the homes for Ukraine visa scheme, Quince told Sky News the public can soon expect a “massive escalation” in numbers. The minister did not indicate exactly when that would be. 

“On the homes for Ukraine scheme, the British people have been absolutely incredible,” Quince said. 

“I know that officials at both the Home Office, DLUHC and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office are working at pace, seven days a week, to get as many people to safety and here to the UK as soon as possible.” 

Noa Hoffman is a reporter for CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared.

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