Scotland’s Super Sponsor Scheme for Ukrainian refugees has had to be paused to ensure safe accommodation can continue to be provided to those who have already applied.
The Scottish Government was originally committed to welcome 3,000 refugees from Ukraine. Those wishing to apply to come choose Scotland as their super sponsor when they fill in the application.
A total of 21,256 visas have been issued naming a Scottish sponsor – more than 20% of the UK total, and the highest number per head of population in the UK.
Since last week Ukrainians wishing to come to Scotland has gone up by 21%, visas issued are up 27%, and arrivals under the super sponsor scheme up 20%.
It is essential that safe accommodation is provided and that those arriving can be properly supported. As a consequence of this rise in numbers the scheme has been temporarily paused while those issues can be sorted.
Minister with Special Responsibility for Refugees from Ukraine, Neil Gray explained:
“As a nation Scotland has risen in solidarity with Ukrainians in their hour of need. I am proud that thanks in large part to our super sponsor scheme, we are now providing safe accommodation to the most Ukrainians per head of population in the UK.
“We have been able to ensure thousands of people displaced by Russia’s horrific and illegal war were able to travel immediately and receive support and a place to stay without the need to be matched with a private host first.
“Our absolute priority has been to respond quickly to support those forced to flee their homeland and I thank all local authorities, third sector organisations, the private sector and the public, who have all mobilised in a major effort to help – together we have coordinated accommodation and delivered essential services at a large scale and in a very short space of time. “
Other measures put in place include:
- the chartering of a passenger vessel the M/S Victoria, which will be docked in Leith in Edinburgh to provide an additional 739 rooms where people can be temporarily accommodated
- the refurbishment of 200 unused council properties in North Lanarkshire to provide more longer-term accommodation, supported by £5 million of Scottish Government funding
- additional staff will be deployed in ‘surge teams’ to assist local authorities matching those in temporary premises to suitable longer-term accommodation
- the Wheatley Housing Group, Scotland’s largest social landlord, has pledged to make 300 homes available to local authorities across Scotland to house displaced people from Ukraine
- Neil Gray will meet today with Lord Harrington, UK Minister for Refugees, to seek clarity on existing funding arrangements for the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme and, given the very high demand experienced by the Welsh and Scottish Government schemes, ask whether the UK Government will consider introducing its own super sponsor arrangements
Over 7,000 people have been welcomed into Scotland: two-thirds of whom applied under the Scottish super sponsor scheme.
On arrival in Scotland displaced Ukrainians are given safe, temporary accommodation in Welcome Hubs across the country, where meals, trauma support and medical attention are provided as necessary. A matching process is then undertaken to provide suitable accommodation either in social rent properties or with private hosts where safeguarding and property suitability checks have been carried out in advance.
The 3 month pause will be in place from 9:00 am on Wednesday 13 July.
Neil Gray continued:
“With a recent decrease in people applying for private sponsorship in England, and Wales having paused their own scheme, the number of applications naming the Scottish Government as sponsor has increased considerably in recent weeks. For this reason we have taken the incredibly difficult decision to follow Wales in pausing our scheme so we can continue to provide a high level of support and care to everyone who has already been granted a visa.
“We will review our position in three months, but of course if circumstances change during that time we will bring that date forward. In the meantime we are taking significant action to increase the capacity of our temporary accommodation and are also boosting our matching system to maximise the number of displaced people placed with volunteer hosts who have completed the necessary safeguarding checks.”