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Ukraine Refugee Resettlement Schemes – Behind the Headlines

Date: 07 April 2022

We stand with Ukraine

We have watched in disbelief as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to the loss of many innocent lives and millions of residents fleeing their homes and seeking safety elsewhere. Many wish to do something practical to help until the time comes for a return to their homeland.

One way to help is through the national resettlement schemes.

However, there has been much speculation and misinformation circulating around these schemes in place for Ukrainian refugees, so we thought it would be helpful to outline some of the key facts.

Find out more on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme  

Which schemes are available in terms of housing people from Ukraine in this country?

The UK Government has two main schemes:

  • The Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK.
  • The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

The Scottish Government’s Warm Scottish Welcome covers:

  • The Scottish Super Sponsor Scheme for Displaced People from Ukraine; and
  • Private Sponsorship under the UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

The Scottish Government’s Super Sponsor Scheme removes the need for applicants to be matched prior to being given permission to travel to the UK, by Scotland acting as a “super sponsor”. The First Minister has suggested 3,000 as an immediate step, and then a fair and proportionate share of the total coming to the UK.  

The Homes for Ukraine Scheme enables UK individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to record their interest in supporting Ukrainians fleeing the war – including those with no family ties to the UK.

Opening on 18 March, phase one of the scheme will allow sponsors in the UK to nominate a named Ukrainian or a named Ukrainian family to stay with them in their home or in a separate property.

People wanting to be sponsors who do not know anyone personally fleeing Ukraine can also record their interest in being a sponsor. Charities, faith groups and local community organisations are helping to facilitate connections between individuals, for potential sponsors who do not have a named contact.

Is Orkney Islands Council responsible for running these schemes?

No. The UK Government and Scottish Government are responsible for running the schemes.

The Council’s role is in relation to resettling Ukranian arrivals and will be based on the process that Councils and partners have been operating for a number of years, including the Syrian Resettlement Scheme.  It is expected that all 32 Scottish Local Authorities will take part in the scheme.

How is the Council involved in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme?

The Council has a very broad role including:

  • assisting with suitable housing but also ensuring offers of private sector housing meet appropriate standards;
  • alongside partner agencies ensuring there is local access to health care services - including potentially significant demand on mental health and trauma support services;
  • providing access to education services and interpretation and translation services;
  • after care arrangements if relationships break down within the households they are accommodating. Sponsored Ukrainians may therefore need to access accommodation through the Council’s Homelessness Service at short notice. 
  • Refugees arriving in Scotland will be met by the Local Authority at the point of entry to Scotland whether by air or sea and then onward travel will be assisted by the Council locally.    
  • The Council must also administer the scheme, this includes inspecting properties offered to ensure they meet appropriate standards, ensuring safeguarding processes are followed and undertaking enhanced disclosure checks for hosts of Ukranian refugees and administering the £350 per month payment to households taking part.

What impact will this have on the Council’s service provision?

The Council will have to ensure services are delivered as outlined above. 

Once we have details of the profile of families arriving we can plan more specifically to deliver what will be required based on actual need. This will need to be compared against available supply. For instance, some areas of Orkney may have sufficient space within schools, whereas other areas may be more challenging. Orkney has limited diversity and the Council does not routinely have services in place for supporting refugees or asylum seekers and therefore these will require to be re-established. We may need to consider where additional staffing resources are required and whether those are affordable inside the budgetary provision.

Has the Council been given additional cash to assist with the schemes?

The Council will receive £10,500 per person to enable them to provide services to assist families to rebuild their lives.

An education tariff will be paid per nursery or school pupil ranging from £3000 for a nursery pupil, £6580 for a primary school pupil and £8755 for a secondary pupil.  This includes support for children with special educational needs and disabilities.    

Has the Council been given additional staffing resources to assist?

No. The Council would require to use its additional funding to cover the costs of additional staff.  Currently no information is held on the family profiles and where in Orkney they will be based so determining additional staffing resources inside budgetary allowances, is very difficult given Orkney’s geography.

Do we know how many Ukrainian refugees will be offered a home in Orkney?

At this stage we know how many landlords have offered self-contained properties to the Council for let.  We also know how many households have told us, they have registered to take part in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, how many bedrooms they have offered and the general location.  We understand around 40 offers have been made across Orkney. However, we do not know how many households have registered with the UK Government and what their specific offers were, unless they have specifically told us.

We expect to receive more detailed information in due course.

Currently we also do not know the profile of households arriving or what their needs may be. We also do not know all the areas of Orkney where properties or rooms have been offered, except where that information has been given to us following our request.

Why can’t the Council use empty buildings to resettle refugees?

Accommodation offers should be suitable to allow the long-term resettlement of refugees.  Therefore, they should be within housing of an appropriate standard.  This includes offers made by private householders to accommodate refugees within their homes and also private properties available for let to refugees directly. 

We are unable to use properties which are empty but are privately owned and have not been offered for this purpose.  We are also unable to use non-domestic properties as these would be unsuitable for residential use.

How is the Council preparing for Ukrainians being resettled in Orkney?

Significant planning is underway, delivered through a small group of key partners, to prepare for the arrival of Ukranians. 

The Council has coordinated a list of offers of accommodation or rooms within existing households. It is arranging to undertake property checks to ensure housing offered is of an appropriate standard, is safe and that landlords meet legal requirements. 

This includes planning to deliver specific services including providing housing support where necessary, educational arrangements for any children, interpretation and translation services are available locally and also that English for Speakers of Other Languages tuition is available.  Provision of health services, assistance with claiming welfare benefits and appropriate financial arrangements are in place to support service delivery. The Council is working closely with Voluntary Action Orkney (VAO) to ensure that key third sector organisations are included and that plans to involve volunteers and support charities are in place.

The Council, in partnership with VAO, will also seek to ensure charitable arrangements enable households coming to Orkney can access items that they require as relevant.         

The plans to resettle Ukranian refugees, also include ensuring that information is made available publicly through press releases so that others are aware of the work underway and how well prepared we are to receive refugees.

What happens after I have offered a room in my house as part of the scheme?

The Scottish Government will be in contact to obtain further detail about the offer that you have made, to check that any offer of suitable accommodation will apply for at least 6 months, that you are happy to consent to the Council undertaking a check of your property and an enhanced disclosure check being undertaken.

This information will then be passed to the Council.

At the same time Visa applications will be being processed by the UK Government accordingly. If it is a named household, you are taking this will be taken forward appropriately, alternatively matching will be undertaken by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

You will be asked to check with any mortgage provider or seek your landlord’s permission to go ahead. You should also notify your insurer.  In addition, you should ensure sufficient supplies of food, toiletries and access to a mobile phone and internet is provided.

What happens if I have offered accommodation but change my mind after the Ukrainian person/family have already arrived?

If after resettlement, the relationship within a household breaks down, initially steps will be taken to try and assist with a resolution. 

However, if that is unsuccessful, there may be a need for the Ukranian person / family to seek assistance from the Council’s Homelessness Service depending on the situation.

Has the Council’s reaction to the schemes been too slow?

The Schemes are controlled by the UK Government and Scottish Government and the timescale for delivery flows from that accordingly. The Council has no control over the speed of delivery. 

In relation to the Council’s participation in the UK Government’s Scheme to resettle Ukranian refugees, a decision was taken to take part on 10 March 2022 and offers of private sector accommodation were sought accordingly.  It was agreed that while the Council would participate in the scheme, the challenges were emphasised and engagement in the resettlement process needs to be delivered in a sustainable manner.

Is there anything the Council could do differently to speed up its response?

Given that the scheme is controlled by the UK and Scottish Governments, the Council isn’t in control of the speed of delivery.

The Council will endeavor to ensure appropriate plans are in place to assist with the swift delivery of services, but details on the profile of families arriving, and their location within Orkney, is needed to enable this to be progressed.

  • Summary:

    We have watched in disbelief as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to the loss of many innocent lives and millions of residents fleeing their homes and seeking safety elsewhere. Many wish to do something practical to help until the time comes for a return to their homeland.

    One way to help is through the national resettlement schemes.

  • Category:
    • Housing
    • Community
    • Charity

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS