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14 March, 2022 Open access

Government launches ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, with recipients of help to have full and unrestricted access to benefits and other support

Secretary of State confirms that those arriving under the scheme will be granted three years leave to remain, and that sponsors will be able to access a tax-free payment of £350 a month

The government has launched its 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme to enable sponsors living in the UK to provide a home for Ukrainian individuals or families.

Making an oral statement in the House of Commons today, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove announced that, under the scheme, individuals can apply to provide a home or spare room rent-free for as long as they are able, with a minimum stay of six months. While the scheme will initially facilitate sponsorship for those with known connections, Mr Gove advised that it will be 'rapidly expanded in a phased way' to ensure prospective sponsors can be matched with Ukrainians with no ties who need help.

Confirming that all those coming to the UK under the scheme will be granted three years leave to remain, and will have 'full and unrestricted' access to benefits, healthcare, employment and other support, Mr Gove added that sponsors can be of any nationality with any immigration status provided they have at least six months leave to remain within the UK. In addition - 

'... in recognition of their generosity, the government will provide a monthly payment of £350 to sponsors for each family who they may look after. These payments will be tax free, and they will not affect benefit entitlement nor council tax status.'

In new guidance, Homes for Ukraine scheme: frequently asked questions, that sets out how the scheme will work, the government confirms that -

The government adds that it is providing a 'substantial level of funding' to local authorities to enable them to provide wider support, and that it will provide more detailed guidance 'in the coming days'.

NB - in a letter to the Secretary of State before his statement, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales had expressed concern that the process of matching Ukrainians to a sponsor may prove 'cumbersome' and recommended instead that the Scottish and Welsh Governments act as a 'super sponsor', ensuring that  -

'... a fair and proportionate number of refugees would be allocated to Scotland and Wales and the Scottish and Welsh Governments, working with their partners, would take forward the provision of accommodation, safeguarding and access to services as they have done successfully to support refugees in the past.

In response, Mr Gove said -

'I was grateful to the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales for their generous offer to act as super-sponsors, and we are doing everything we can to facilitate that. My officials are working with those in the Scottish and Welsh Governments to ensure that we can do that in a way that enables everyone to live up to their responsibilities.'

Mr Gove added that, in respect of funding for the devolved nations, the government will be using a 'flexible approach', rather than the Barnett formula as if there are many more sponsors in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland than in other parts of the United Kingdom, that 'would not be fair on those individuals'.

For more information, see ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme launches from gov.uk

Update (29 March 2022) - in a written statement today, Home Office Minister Kevin Foster confirmed that the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme is being formally brought into the Immigration Rules.