Politics

Councils to get £10,000 for each Ukrainian refugee welcomed, says Gove | Ukraine


Local councils will be given £10,000 for each Ukrainian refugee welcomed into their area, the levelling up secretary, Michael Gove, has promised, as he called for “every available bed” to be offered under a new “homes for Ukraine” scheme.

Households will be invited to register from Monday if they are willing to provide a room for a Ukrainian refugee. Gove said charities could then help to match them with individuals seeking sanctuary.

“We want to make sure that every available bed that we have in this country that can be made available, every available home that can be made available, to those who are fleeing persecution, is mobilised, and we know that there a large number of people in this country, generous-hearted and in a position to provide homes – and businesses and charities as well,” he said on Sunday.

“What we’re doing is saying, we the government will act in solidarity and in cooperation with you.” He said the government would pay £350 a month to families hosting a refugee, which they would have to agree to do for at least six months.

The refugees would be allowed to work, Gove said. They will be entitled to NHS care and their children can attend local schools while they are in the UK. He said local authorities would be offered £10,000 for each individual to help facilitate that, with additional payments for children.

Gove said he thought the scheme could lead to tens of thousands of refugees being housed in the UK. He also clarified reports that he was planning to seize the homes of oligarchs who have been placed under sanctions in order to house refugees.

He said: “I want to explore an option that would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned individuals, for as long as they are sanctioned, for humanitarian and other purposes.”

He acknowledged there was a “quite a high legal bar to cross”, however, and said even if it did go ahead, it would not mean “permanent confiscation” of the properties involved. “While you are not using or profiting from it, if we can use it in order to help others, let’s do that,” he told BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme.

The government has faced furious criticism in recent days over its slow and bureaucratic response to the Ukraine refugee crisis, including from its own MPs, after ministers decided not to follow the EU’s lead and waive the need for visas. The home secretary, Priti Patel, told MPs last week it was important for the government to carry out security checks.

Gove said the UK had accepted 3,000 applications for visas and pointed to Patel’s announcement last week of a new web-based application process due to come into force on Tuesday.

Asked whether he would be signing up to provide a room to a refugee himself, Gove said: “I am going to make sure that I do everything I can as an individual to support. Every individual will have their own circumstances.”

The Irish taoiseach, Micheál Martin, told the BBC on Sunday that his country had already accepted 5,500 refugees. “Our primary impulse is to assist those fleeing war. The Irish people are very seized by the series of atrocities that are going on, what we are witnessing on our screens is really shocking people and there’s huge human empathy there,” he said.

Last week, the Irish government said Patel had contacted them to raise security concerns about the number of people Ireland was accepting and the risk that they could enter Northern Ireland.



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