The UK government on Sunday announced to provide 350 pounds (USD 456) per month allowance to families who welcome Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war zone into their homes. UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove said during television interviews that he expects thousands of refugees to be able to benefit from additional schemes, which will include 10,000 pounds (USD 13,000) per head grants for local councils to meet the additional needs of those fleeing the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The minister said the refugees would also have access to the taxpayer-funded National Health Service (NHS). “For each individual who comes, just over 10,000 pounds per individual will be available to local authorities, Gove told Sky News.
“And then there’ll be additional payments for those children who are of school age and need to be accommodated within the education system. Everyone will have access to full NHS care, including mental health," he said. The new Homes for Ukraine scheme, in addition to a family scheme in place for UK-based Ukrainians to bring in close family, will open up for online registration of interest from Monday.
People will be encouraged to offer their homes and spare rooms to those in need for at least six month and will receive 350 pounds a month in return as a thank you from the government. “Matching will be taking place from Friday. I would expect that in a week’s time we’ll see the first people coming here under the scheme," said Gove.
Under the sponsorship scheme, individuals acting as sponsors will be able to nominate a named Ukrainian individual or family to stay with them rent-free in their home, or in a separate property. Sponsors won’t be required to know them in advance they might find them through posts on social media or otherwise.
There will be no limit on the number of refugees who can come to the UK through this route, and they will be given three years leave to remain in the country, with the right to work and access public services. Applications would be made online, with sponsors being vetted and refugees having to go through security checks.
“It’s the fastest way we can get people out of danger and into the United Kingdom," Gove told the BBC. Asked if he would take a Ukrainian refugee into his home, the minister said “yes", adding that he is exploring what he can do.
In a later phase, organisations such as charities and churches will also be able to sponsor refugees, though there is no start date for this yet. The devolved governments of Scotland and Wales have written to the UK government to propose that they be allowed to act as so-called “super sponsors" to offer temporary accommodation to refugees and enable them to come to the UK even faster.
More than 2.5 million people are estimated to have fled Ukraine to escape Russian attacks, in what the United Nations has called the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.
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