War in Ukraine: One in five refugees from Ukraine trapped in temporary accommodation in Scotland

One in five refugees from Ukraine who sought shelter in Scotland are still living in temporary accommodation, new figures have revealed.

Almost 20 per cent of refugees – a total of 1,520 – who arrived from Ukraine since April are still living in temporary accommodation such as hotels. The figure rises to more than 70 per cent in Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Aberdeen, and Highland Council, according to data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Edinburgh Council said it did not have access to the figures, but having recently housed between 1,600 and 1,700 refugees on the MS Victoria it is likely the true figure for Scotland is even higher.

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The Scottish Government has said it plans to open a second boat for temporary accommodation in Glasgow next month. Hundreds of Ukrainians are still living in hotels across Scotland while they wait to be matched to a volunteer host – or placed in social housing.

The MS Victoria ferry berthed in the Port of Leith, Edinburgh, which is providing temporary accommodation to Ukrainian refugees invited to Scotland. Picture date: Thursday August 24, 2022.
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The Scottish Government’s Super Sponsor scheme allowed refugees from Ukraine to list the Scottish Government as their sponsor under the UK-wide Home for Ukraine visa route, rather than having to find an individual sponsor by contacting strangers through social media before applying. However, it was suspended in June in a bid to allow local councils to work through a backlog of new arrivals due to unprecedented demand.

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The Scottish Conservatives, which collated the data, have called on the Government to act now to find more permanent homes for Ukrainians fleeing war.

Scottish Conservative shadow housing secretary Miles Briggs said: “This scheme was supposed to offer refugees a sense of stability, but today thousands are still facing an uncertain future without a sponsor. It is essential that Ukrainians who have fled the war are able to find a real community in Scotland where they can rebuild their lives.

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“Yet this can only happen if sponsorship is being properly promoted, something which the SNP Government is failing to do. We cannot be allowed to simply forget about these refugees, and more must be done to settle them properly.”

Mr Briggs added: “That is why we are calling on the SNP Government to act now to promote sponsorship and help vulnerable refugees find a home.”

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Minister with Special Responsibilities for Refugees from Ukraine Neil Gray said: “We are pleased that thanks in large part to our Super Sponsor Scheme, we are now providing safe accommodation to more displaced people from Ukraine per head of population than any other part of the UK. Since the conflict began, almost 15,000 people with a Scottish sponsor have arrived, representing 17.6% of all UK arrivals, the most per head of any of the four nations. More than 11,500 of these arrivals are through the Scottish Government’s successful Super Sponsor Scheme.

“The Scottish Government is providing accommodation that is safe and sustainable whilst people are waiting to be matched suitable longer term accommodation. Significant action is underway to increase the temporary accommodation capacity as well as boost the matching system to maximise the number of people who can be placed with volunteer hosts who have completed the necessary safeguarding checks.”

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The figures were published as UK transport secretary Grant Shapps unveiled a deal to help rebuild war-torn Ukraine, adding that hosting a refugee family had made the war “real” to him.

As Ukraine’s infrastructure collapses six months into Russia’s invasion, the package will provide engineering expertise from companies including Rolls-Royce.

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Along with providing advice on reconstructing airports, runways and ports, the deal also earmarks £10 million for repairing bridges and buying shipping containers to mobilise grain trains.

The UK Government hopes this will boost Ukraine’s grain exports and ease the pressure on food prices, which have soared since Russia invaded.

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Mr Shapps signed the pact on a call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksandr Kubrakov, who reminded him they had spoken on February 24 – the day war broke out.

“He later told me he was in a field just outside Ukraine, just not knowing what would happen in the next few hours,” Mr Shapps said.

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“Six months in, it seems like the appropriate time to put an action plan in place.”.”

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