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Ministers from Wales and Scotland tell UK Government cutting Ukraine refugee funding is short-sighted

23 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Neil Gray (L) Photo Andrew Milligan PA Images and Jane Hutt

Cutting the funding that local authorities receive for each Ukrainian refugee they house is “counter-productive and short-sighted” Michael Gove has been told.

The UK Communities Secretary announced earlier this month that the funding would be cut, while the money given to people who host those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine is set to rise.

Funding provided to councils will drop from £10,500 per person to £5,900 per person as a result of “wider pressures on the public finances”, Mr Gove said.

Review

In a letter from Welsh Social Justice minister, Jane Hutt and Scottish Ukraine minister, Neil Gray, they asked for the decisions to be “urgently” reviewed.

“The changes announced amount to a reduction in funding available to help people fleeing Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine settle into a new home,” the letter said.

“In the face of continued and acute need, it is counter-productive and short-sighted to cut vital funding available to deliver public services to the most vulnerable.

“It will place local authorities under extreme and unacceptable pressure during an unprecedented cost of living crisis.

“Those arriving from Ukraine deserve the same care and support which we provide to those arriving from Afghanistan or through the UK Resettlement Scheme.

“The approach and funding model used under those schemes is internationally recognised as good practice and supported by each of our Governments.

“The decision to undermine the success of this safe and legal route to the UK is at odds with recent UK Government claims about a generous approach.”

Elsewhere, the funding given to individuals who take in Ukrainian refugees will rise from £350 to £500 a month after the first year.

Housing

Mr Gove also announced a £500 million fund aimed at allowing councils in England to buy up housing stock for the use of refugees, which is expected to provide up to 4,000 homes.

Addressing the funding increases, the ministers said the £500 payments should start immediately rather than after 12 months, adding that the devolved nations do not have the “fiscal headroom” to offer similar funds to local authorities to buy up housing stock.

“We therefore ask that you urgently revisit this decision, which was made without appropriate consultation and engagement with devolved Governments, and to meet with us quickly to find a more effective way forward,” the ministers concluded.

Grateful

A spokeswoman for the UK Government said: “We are grateful to all sponsors who have opened their homes to Ukrainians. We understand they may be concerned about rising costs, which is why we have increased thank you payments to £500 a month, once the guest has been in the UK for a year.

“Councils have received £1.1 billion through the Homes for Ukraine scheme so they can support arrivals and they have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their heads.

“Ministers and officials meet regularly with their counterparts in the devolved governments and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure Ukrainians and their hosts have the support they need.”


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