Homes For Ukrainian Refugees: Are Britain Doing Enough?


The UK Government has announced a ‘Homes For Ukraine,’ scheme to allow Ukrainian refugees to enter the country. Micheal Gove, sporting a blue and yellow tie in reference to the Ukrainian flag, announced the scheme in parliament alongside the requirements that are needed for a Ukrainian citizen to seek refuge in the UK. With around 3.5 million Ukrainians having fled the country, will this scheme be enough?

The scheme is designed to assist those British citizens to bring refugees into their homes or other suitable accommodation for a minimum of six months. Those Brits who wish to share their homes with refugees will be offered £350 a month to assist with living costs. 

At first glance, the scheme seems extremely generous and quite out of character for the Conservative government, especially months after the Nationality and Borders Bill. Reportedly, around 150,000 people across the UK have eagerly signed up for the scheme. However, it is unclear how many will actually be allowed into the UK under the scheme.

Gove spelled out the scheme whilst talking in parliament and expressed how security protocols surrounding refugees have been streamlined. For example, both Ukrainians and Britons who have registered interests are required to pass security vetting to avoid the scheme being exploited. He also placed heavy emphasis on the word, ‘sponsor,’ whereby British residents are able to sponsor Ukrainian refugees. This term is usually used when a person or organisation is attempting to help grant someone citizenship – however in this case citizenship is not what is needed – a safe place to stay is. 

It does make you wonder how fast this process will actually be. Those who have signed up can sponsor a refugee immediately, but how does one then immerse themselves within society after experiencing such a traumatic event? Gove also pointed out that Ukrainian refugees will be granted access to all public services such as schools, doctors and will be granted the right to work. It almost sounds too good to be true. 

Prior to this announcement, those Ukrainians who had family in the UK were able to seek refuge in Britain. This simply was not enough. The first thing that comes to mind is, what about Ukrainians on a short visa such as a student visa – are they able to bring their family across? Here we can see the government clearly not doing enough – maybe a reason for the updated scheme. 

The government has been accused by many of ‘dragging its feet’ in regard to the Ukraine crisis. Countries such as, Poland,have set an extremely high bar by accepting over 2 million refugees – a similar population to that seen in the capital of Warsaw. There are clear doubts over whether Britian will be able to follow suit.

I almost agree with the accusation of the government dragging its feet. This wouldn’t be the first time that Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has been known to act slowly on a situation. It is a true shame that almost a month into the disaster in Ukraine that the UK decides to act.

Gove also stated that there is no official limit for how many refugees can enter the UK. The scheme is a clear response to the outcry of various people criticising the Home Office’s efforts to support Ukrainians fleeing their home. The criticisms become significantly louder when it was reported that refugees were being turned away at the border of Calais. It is surprising that the UK government have taken these steps to offer sanctuary to those left without a home – however the time it took almost overshadows the efforts. 

Labour MP Lisa Nandy expressed her relief for the scheme but was also concerned about the lack of urgency. Nandy went on to discuss the way in which Ukrainians have to apply for the scheme. She stated that the government is “asking people who have fled with nothing to find an internet cafe to upload documents they don’t have.” The way the scheme works means that refugees have to sign up to the sponsorship scheme to find a sponsor. Nandy makes a lot of sense by showing her concern for the scheme, especially when these people, who have suffered at the hand of Vladimir Putin, now how to suffer at the hand of the government’s technicalities. 

The number of British citizens who have signed up for the scheme is rather high, however, how are those refugees to be picked? Who prioritises which refugees get to enter the country, because, without being too pessimistic, the number of Britons signing up is likely to run out.

Words by Luke Severn

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