Ukraine Crisis: Discussions remain 'ongoing' around accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in Scotland, says Scottish minister

No specific accommodation arrangements have been announced for Ukrainian refugees coming to Scotland as Scotland’s Europe and national affairs minister said discussions were “ongoing”.

SNP MSP Neil Gray told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland the super sponsor scheme would be part of the UK Government Homes for Ukraine scheme.

However, no specific accommodation arrangements for Ukrainians coming to Scotland have been announced.

Mr Gray said Scotland needed “more information” from the UK Government on the refugee situation.

Neil Gray, Scotland’s Europe and National Affairs Minister said discussions are “ongoing” as no specific accommodation arrangements for Ukrainian refugees coming to Scotland have been announced.

However, he said the Scottish Government was hoping to initially secure “as much as possible” temporary accommodation and more longer-term sustainable housing options “as quickly as possible”.

Refugees arriving in Scotland could “potentially” stay in hotels when they arrive in Scotland, he added.

Nicola Sturgeon, alongside the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, have both offered for their governments to become “super sponsors” for Ukrainian refugees coming to the UK.

Scotland has offered sanctuary for 3,000 refugees, mirroring the offer made for the Syrian Refugee programme, with the Welsh Government offering this for 1,000 refugees.

At Parliament on Monday, Michael Gove said the UK Government would “work closely” with the devolved nations “to make sure their kind offers of help are mobilised”.

But Ms Sturgeon said the UK Government had not confirmed formal agreement of the super sponsor offer and, as a result, said the Scottish Government was not yet able to finalise the timescale and details.

Gary Christie, head of policy, communications and communities at the Scottish Refugee Council, said the use of hotel accommodation “should not be ruled out” to provide immediate temporary reception for people arriving before moving onto more stable accommodation across Scotland.

He said: “We have been highly critical of the Home Office’s use of hotels as a cost-saving measure during the pandemic, as ‘contingency’ accommodation for people seeking asylum and as a result of a lack of preparation for the Afghan Resettlement Scheme.

“We have long called for a sustained refugee resettlement system in the UK that plans for 10,000 refugees to be resettled each year to the UK and for an effective and fair asylum system – fundamental aspects of a refuge protection system.”

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The Scottish Government has been in discussions with Cosla and local authority housing partners to ensure there is capacity for people arriving in Scotland.

Mr Gray said: “We need to ensure that we have the information coming to Scotland in terms of who is making applications to come here and how we can best match them up.”

A total of 4,000 visas had been issued to Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK, with 17,100 applications submitted under the Ukrainian family scheme.

The UK Government has said it will offer £350 a month to households opening their homes to Ukrainian people fleeing from the war.

Mr Gove also announced that local authority areas would be entitled to more than £10,000 per Ukrainian refugee using the fresh route to the UK.

Speaking at Parliament on Monday, Mr Gove announced the Homes for Ukraine scheme would have “no limit” for those who can benefit from the scheme.

However, the scheme will initially facilitate sponsorship between people with “known connections”, according to Mr Gove.

Under the scheme, Ukrainians will still need a visa to access the UK.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the First Minister has said, Scotland will play its full part in welcoming Ukrainians seeking sanctuary from war. Our view is the UK Government should waive all visa requirements – however, we are ready to maximise our contribution to the UK Government’s community sponsorship scheme, and we await the full details of that plan.

“By acting as ‘super sponsor’ rather than waiting for the UK Government’s matching process, we can provide safety and sanctuary to people immediately and welcome significant numbers of refugees from Ukraine to Scotland. This would include providing temporary accommodation and wrap-around support while longer-term arrangements are put in place.

“We have already brought together key partners such as COSLA, the Scottish Refugee Council and Police Scotland to ensure effective co-ordination of plans to address the practical challenges of resettling those coming to Scotland.”

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