Wales pauses super-sponsor scheme for Ukrainian refugees after three thousand applications
The Welsh Government has revealed it is pausing its super-sponsor scheme for Ukrainian refugees after receiving thousands of applications.
Just under 3,000 applications have been submitted through the scheme – three times more than the 1,000 applicants the government initially said it would sponsor following the outbreak of the war.
Of those, 2,453 people have been granted a visa – while 480 people are believed to have actually arrived in the UK.
If granted a visa through the scheme, a person will get accommodation, support and care in Wales without the need for them to be matched with a person or family before they are cleared to travel.
But ministers have now announced a month-long pause on new applications from June 10, after which they will re-evaluate whether to reopen the scheme or not.
The temporary break is said to be aimed at giving organisations involved, including local authorities, time to focus on arranging next stage accommodation and delivering wider wraparound support services for those arriving.
The scheme where individuals can sponsor refugees will continue. And applications already submitted will continue to be processed.
The Scottish Government appears to have no plans to pause its super-sponsor scheme.
Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies hit back at the news claiming the government was “backtracking” on its promise to provide shelter to Ukrainians and urged them to continue the scheme.
Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “From the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict, our message has been clear – Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary and ready to welcome those fleeing war.
“Launched at the end of March, we have had a very positive response to our Homes for Ukraine Super Sponsor route. We have seen visas granted well in excess of our initial commitment to welcome people.
“This temporary pause will give us the opportunity to refine the arrangements we have put in place to support people on arrival and ensure all public services, in particular local authorities, can continue to deliver a high standard of support.
“To be clear, this operational pause will not affect any current applications and people will continue to arrive in Wales as visas are granted and travel arrangements are confirmed.”
Praising what she called a “team Wales” approach to the crisis, Ms Hutt said: “We can all be proud of the heroic effort in supporting the people of Ukraine.”
When arriving in Wales, they are taken to one of the welcome centres which have been set up across the country and have 750 bed spaces. They are then expected to be moved onto medium and longer-term accommodation.
Mr Davies said: “With the situation in parts of Ukraine continuing to deteriorate, it is of the utmost importance that this scheme continues.
“No matter how they spin it, this is a failure.
“The scheme was introduced with much fanfare in April, and it’s only taken eight weeks for Labour ministers to backtrack. Ukrainian refugees need support, and Welsh Conservatives want to see the scheme back up and running.”
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