Britons donating homes to Ukrainian refugees via a new humanitarian route will receive a ‘thank you’ payment of Â£350 a month, the government has announced.
The Homes for Ukraine programme, which will be rolled out this week, will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to bring people fleeing war to safety, even if they have no connection to the UK.
Sponsors can appoint a named Ukrainian person or family to stay with them in their home, or offer them a separate property to use without rent.
It comes as the government has come under fire for the speed and scale of its efforts to bring fleeing Ukrainians to the UK.
People who sponsor refugees through the new uncapped route will need to commit to the program for at least six months, but are encouraged to keep the offer as long as possible.
Those offering accommodation will be checked and Ukrainian applicants will be subject to security checks.
As a ‘thank you’, sponsors will receive payments of Â£350 per month. A website collating expressions of interest is expected to be launched on Monday.
The government said it was also working to allow communities, the voluntary sector and charitable and religious organizations to sponsor groups of Ukrainians.
Michael Gove, the secretary of Leveling Up, Housing and Communities, said the UK “stands behind Ukraine in its darkest hour” and urged people to “join the national effort” to help refugees.
But Labor has warned that âtoo many questions remain unansweredâ about the new regime.
Shadow Upgrade Secretary Lisa Nandy said it was unclear what support would be offered to vulnerable children and the elderly, whether provision would be made for unaccompanied children and what help would go to local government, sponsoring organizations and housing providers.
She said if Britons had to have a prior connection to a Ukrainian family to sponsor them, it would be “a severe limitation”.
“The pandemic has shown that in a crisis we can step in as a country,” she added.
âWe are ready to start again. So far ministers have behaved as if these were ordinary times, but these are extraordinary times and we need extraordinary measures. Â»
Mr Gove said: âThe crisis in Ukraine has sent shockwaves across the world as hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been forced to flee their homes, leaving behind everything they know and love.
“The UK stands with Ukraine in its darkest hour and the British public understands the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as possible.
âI urge people across the country to join the national effort and offer their support to our Ukrainian friends. Together, we can provide a safe home for those in desperate need.â
Ukrainians who have sponsors will be granted three years’ leave to stay in the UK, with the right to work and access public services.
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford have said Scotland and Wales are ready to become “super sponsors” for Ukrainian refugees.
In a letter to Mr Gove, they also renewed their calls for Westminster to waive all visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals trying to enter the UK.
The UK is supporting Ukraine in its darkest hour and the British public understands the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as possible.
The governments of Holyrood and Cardiff said the super sponsorship would allow Ukrainians to gain permission to quickly enter each country and be temporarily housed while they work with local partners to provide accommodation to more term, protection and access to services.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi announced on Saturday that online lessons will be made available to 100,000 refugee pupils as they transition to “life and safety” in the UK.
He told BBC Question Time earlier in the week: âWhat you are seeing now is an increase in our capacity to accommodate more Ukrainians.
“I can tell you that in my own education department I have a team that is already making plans for a capacity of 100,000 children that we will accommodate in our schools.”