Ukraine crisis: Nicola Sturgeon says number of granted visas in UK 'isn't good enough' as conflict continues

Nicola Sturgeon has said “we must let people in” as she declared the amount of visas granted to date under a new Home Office scheme to help Ukrainians “just isn’t good enough”.

The First Minister’s comments come after it was reported only “around 50” visas have been granted under the Ukraine Family Scheme as of Sunday, according to the UK Home Office.

So far, 5,535 applications have been submitted online and 2,368 people have booked visa appointments to submit applications/biometric data in person.

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Commenting on the news around visas, Ms Sturgeon posted on Twitter: “This just isn’t good enough.

The First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has said the current amount of granted visas under a new Home Office scheme to help Ukrainians “just isn’t good enough” (Photo: Sandy Young).

"With 1.5 million already displaced from Ukraine, there is a desperate need for UK to step up – both on re-uniting families and offering refuge more generally. We must let people in – as other countries are doing – and deal with paperwork afterwards.”

The First Minister also told BBC Radio 4 she felt a sense of “despair” and “shame” the UK was “not doing as much as other countries to step up now and respond to what is a humanitarian crisis”.

Ms Sturgeon compared the 50 visas granted to more than 1,000 people already entering the Republic of Ireland.

Naming the UK as the “outlier” of Europe, the First Minister told the programme: "What Ireland is doing is letting people into the country and then doing the paperwork and dealing with the bureaucracy, rather than what the UK is doing right now, which is keeping people out of the UK to do all of that.”

Accommodation and support services are being looked at. However, Ms Sturgeon has said she has not had clarity on the refugee numbers Scotland can expect from the UK.

The Scottish Government does not have the power to sanction people directly under devolution. However, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was not going to support trade with Russia and was trying to limit or remove public money to support companies trading in Russia.

Asked if she should stop her opposition to licensing exploration in the North Sea if those in the UK are not buying Russian oil and gas, Ms Sturgeon said: “We need to consider short-term actions, but the real lesson of this, in terms of removing dependency on Russian oil and gas, is accelerating the green transition.”

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Concerns have also been raised around the length of time it takes to allow Ukrainians into the UK under other new schemes such as sponsorship.

Gavin Price, who runs the Schiehallion Hotel in Aberfeldy, has offered employment to those fleeing Ukraine, saying he will pay for the accommodation, flights and will meet the costs of any work visas. However, he was told this process could take up to three months.

Raising the issue last week, Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said: "Surely we must be in a situation, a position, where we could set this red tape aside and allow people in who want to come here to places that are available for people to come to.”

Mr Price said he remained “at the mercy of the Home Office and their poor stance on granting visas”.

He said: “I now have a network of 12 businesses in Aberfeldy who are prepared to offer work, visas, accommodation for up to 50 Ukrainians.”

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