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Minister Confirms UK Households Will Be Able To Offer Homes To Ukrainian Refugees

3 min read

Technology minister Chris Philp has said that UK households will be able to offer homes to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country in the wake of Russia's invasion.

The plans are part of the sponsorship visa route announced by the government last week, and would not require Ukrainians to already have family links to the UK. 

A government hotline and webpage will be set up where organisations, individuals and charities will be able to offer rooms in their homes to Ukrainians who wish to come to the UK, according to The Telegraph. There is not yet a date for when the system will be up and running, but details are expected in the coming days. 

"We’re going to be making announcements in the very near future about a scheme for local authorities and indeed UK families to welcome Ukrainian refugees," Philp told Sky News. 

"We’ve announced that principle and the detail of how that scheme works will be laid out in the very near future."

According to the latest UN estimates, as many as 2.3 million people had fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February. 

Most of those leaving have headed to countries neighbouring Ukraine, but some have begun to make their way to other nations in Europe.

Philp was unable to confirm whether he, or any of his Conservative colleagues, particularly those in the cabinet, would be likely to participate in the scheme. 

"Everybody will have a look at that and see if their personal circumstances allow them to," he continued. 

"I’m sure the British public will look at that and if they’re able to – some people will be able to, and some won’t – they’ll make their own decisions."

More than 10 days ago the government announced it would create a system for Ukrainian refugees without existing links to the UK to apply for a visa, but has faced criticism for not making detail of the scheme sooner. 

Former justice secretary Robert Buckland on Thursday told PoliticsHome's podcast, The Rundown, that he wants to see the government publish details of the sponsorship scheme for Ukrainian refugees in “hours” and is “deeply impatient” for it to get up and running.

“I'm desperate to get on with this,” he said. 

The UK has also faced criticism for accepting significantly fewer Ukrainian refugees so far then when the fall of Kabul triggered a large-scale crisis last year. In fourteen days in August the UK was able to offer entry to 15,000 Afghan refugees, compared to just 1,000 Ukrainian refugees in the last two weeks.

But Philp dismissed the comparison, arguing that the situations were very different, and said that "a surge of resource [is] going into the Home Office’s visa process". 

"We had UK aeroplanes directly flying people out of Kabul airport," he told LBC.

"We’re not doing that in Ukraine for obvious reasons – there’s Russian fighters flying all over the place."

Challenged by LBC's Nick Ferrari on why the UK was far behind its European neighbours on the number of refugees granted homes – Ireland, for example, has granted double the number of visas that the UK has – Philp insisted that changes to the visa process announced this week, meant that many more visas would soon be granted. 

"The Home Office are stepping up their efforts enormously," he continued. 

"The announcement yesterday removing the need for biometrics for Ukrainian passport holders with family here will massively speed up the process – it’s right they did that."

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