Welsh Government response to the Ukraine crisis
Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary and is stood ready to play its full part in welcoming and supporting those from the Ukraine who are escaping the conflict. Below are a series of questions and answers on the current position with UK Government schemes and how they will be delivered in Wales. Please note that this document will be updated on an ongoing basis as further details emerge.
Homes for Ukraine Scheme
How does the Homes for Ukraine Scheme work?
On 1 March the Prime Minister announced plans for a new scheme for Ukrainians with no ties to the UK to apply for sponsorship to arrive in the UK. The scheme will create a visa route to allow sponsors, such as communities, individuals or businesses to bring people to the UK.
The scheme also references work with international charities and humanitarian agencies to ensure that displaced Ukrainians are supported to apply and connected with potential UK sponsors. To apply sponsors need to identify and name the Ukrainian they intend to sponsor so they can be swiftly matched and a visa application process triggered. Individuals would then need to make their own way to the UK to meet their sponsor.
On arrival they will be able to access public funds, public services and seek work with the sponsor providing accommodation for the initial six months. The individual would have leave to stay in the UK for up to three years.
Please note that this scheme and the Ukraine Family Visa Scheme will be uncapped so planning assumptions around numbers arriving in Wales are very difficult to predict.
Within this scheme, it is intended that Welsh Government (and Scottish Government) can act as a ‘super sponsor’. This will enable a more integrated and effective support offer.
Will there be funding available for local authorities?
There is a tariff linked to each individual to pay towards public services such as language lessons, education, healthcare and integration support. Details of what this tariff will cover are still emerging but at present, we believe it is £10.5K per individual which is broadly in line with other resettlement programmes.
Welsh Government anticipates that it will be responsible for distributing this funding to Local Authorities in Wales but there are meetings between Welsh Treasury and DHLUHC this week to confirm.
Will there be funding available for sponsors?
Successful sponsors will be eligible for a monthly £350 payment to help cover living costs associated with hosting people. The administration of this payment has not been decided as yet. UK Government have indicated they intend Local Authorities will make these payments in England.
What is our response in Wales?
Welsh Ministers have been clear that they would want maximum autonomy over any programme to welcome displaced people building on our successful Team Wales approach to resettlement programmes. We see our role as a devolved administrations to act as a “super sponsor” under the new scheme.
We have also committed to Wales supporting an initial 1,000 people in the first phase of the scheme. This figure would incrementally increase to welcome a fair and proportionate share of the Ukrainian refugees who arrive under this scheme.
Welsh Government has been working closely with local authorities, the WLGA, the WCVA and he Wales Strategic Migration Partnership and wider partners to make preparations to welcome refugees.
This offer will be in parallel to individual sponsorship arrangements which are also possible within the scheme but, once properly established, we hope that the generous offers of individuals in Wales can be directed to support ongoing accommodation for people leaving welcome centres in a more coordinated way.
What is planned so far?
Previous experience shows that housing arrivals in Welcome Centres enables early access to the wrap-around services such as health screening, interpretation, English language lessons and supporting people to access benefits and set up bank accounts. To build on our experience we have been working with partners to identify a number of Welcome Centres across Wales to accommodate the initial 1000 arrivals. Conversations are currently taking place with local authorities, partners and hospitality providers to identify appropriate locations to establish the Welcome Centres.
What are the requirements for a Welcome Centre?
- Exclusive use ideal, or the ability to set aside specific areas, wings / floors, for exclusive use
- Self-contained, ensuite accommodation
- Provision of meals three times per day or ability to contract for catering provision
- Communal areas to ensure activities, induction and on-site education can take place
- Office or similar space for on-site liaison with support services
- Cleaning and linen services
- Ideally larger venues able to accommodate over 100 people
- Looking for pan Wales locations
- Locations with public transport links are advantageous
- Locations close to health and other services also advantageous
Contractual basis & service provision
- Minimum 3 month contract with option to extend (could be rolling monthly contract from there), willing to consider longer initial contracts if that helps secure
- Terms to be negotiated
- Contract would be with the relevant Local Authority supported by Welsh Government funding but initial discussions via Welsh Government
- Accommodation provider to provide venue management, catering, cleaning but open to discussion if services need to be contracted in
- Wider support services provided via Local Authority links
- Health screening, support, vaccination etc to be provided via Health Board links
How else can people can also arrive from the Ukraine?
People can also come to the UK through the Ukraine Family Visa Scheme where UK residents can apply for extend family members to live with them in Wales. Families need to accommodate and support their Ukrainian family members and they have leave to stay up to three years. Arrivals will have access to public funds and services and be able to apply for work.
We do not yet have clarity on the data that will be shared with Welsh Government from the Home Office on the numbers and locations of those who arrive in Wales under this scheme. We are urgently seeking this clarity so we can consider the services and funding that may be required to support this cohort.
We are currently also unclear on whether the tariff applies to this group and have asked UK Government for clarification.[Do we know if the tariff applies to this group – if we’re not clear, we should say we’re following that up too]
What is the role for local authorities, the third sector and their partners in the Homes for Ukraine and the Family Visa Scheme?
Our partners in local authorities, health boards, the third sector and other partners are central to our Team Wales approach in a humanitarian crisis. Partnerships between these organisations play a key role providing services such as accommodation, health screening, transport, integration and community cohesion.
In addition to those who are initially housed in a Welcome Centre, there will also be individuals arriving in Wales through the individual or organisation sponsorship routes. These individuals will also need support and access to services in addition to those who have been placed in a Welcome Centre. Data on these individuals will be available to local authorities so that support can be offered and put in place.
We want to encourage public service and wider partners who may be able to support larger numbers of people to engage with you and health bodies. This is both to ensure that service planning can start and also to consider what role those larger accommodation offers could play in the ongoing accommodation of Ukrainian people – and potentially others.
For local authorities there are potentially additional requirements that their services can deliver around checking the suitability and standards of any sponsor accommodation and administering the £350 payment to sponsors. These detailed processes will be developed over the coming days through a series of mapping workshops with representatives from across local authorities, other public services and the third sector.
We are also looking to develop a bespoke CRM to host the details of all arrivals – whether it is through the Homes for Ukraine or the Family visa scheme – to provide a matching service for those moving on from temporary accommodation and checking in service for individuals arriving from the Ukraine. Very initial conversations have taken place with Welsh Government Test Trace Protect leads and regional leads to explore the potential of repurposing the current contact tracing workforce to deliver this service.
We are also engaging with the UK Government on access to the data feeds from their systems.
Our organisation is receiving offers of accommodation – how do we manage this?
For individuals who have a room in their home and want to help, please point them to the Homes for Ukraine scheme online where they can register their details.
We know there will be some people who are able to offer more than just a room in their home – some will be uniquely placed to be able to offer an entire building, house or property. We want to encourage them to engage with you before offering these into the portal. This is both to ensure that service planning can start and also to consider what role those larger accommodation offers could play in the ongoing accommodation of Ukrainian people – and potentially others.
With representatives from local government and the third sector, we are working on developing a simple, secure e-form to capture details of these larger offers.
Our organisation is receiving other offers of goods and other support – how do we manage?
We know everyone is desperate to do all they can to support those impacted by the crisis. However, given the logistical difficulties in transporting the donation of physical goods, we are urging people who are able to donate – to make a financial donation to the Disaster Emergency Committee’s appeal.
A dedicated page on the Welsh Government website has been set up outlining out how people can help and sources of support for people directly affected by the war in Ukraine.
Again, with representatives from local government and the third sector, we are working on developing a simple, secure e-form to capture details of other offers of support, such as access to training or transport