'Clarity needed' over Ukrainian refugee financial contribution plans

There are plans to ask those living in temporary accommodation for a contribution towards their living arrangements.

Calls for clarity over plans to ask Ukrainian refugees in Scotland to make financial contribution towards stay iStock

There are calls for clarity over plans to ask Ukrainian refugees living in temporary accommodation in Scotland to make a financial contribution towards their stay.

The plans were outlined by the minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine, Neil Gray, at the Scottish Parliament.

He acknowledged that many arrivals to Scotland are now in employment or in receipt of social security benefits.

In an update to MSPs, Gray also indicated that the Scottish Government’s super sponsor scheme is not currently being considered for an extension amid concerns over permanent housing shortages.

Thousands of refugees are living on cruise ships, while others remain in temporary accommodation including hotels and B&Bs.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has written to the Government to request details of what bills could be faced by Ukrainian refugees in the coming months.

In his letter, the MSP asked when the new charging system could come into effect, as well as what level of income would be necessary for refugees to be asked for a contribution.

Among his other questions, he asked what level of contribution will be expected and for how long someone would need to have stayed in temporary accommodation.

Cole-Hamilton also raised concerns that the super sponsor scheme will re-open.

“Asking refugees to contribute towards the cost of their temporary welcome accommodation would be a significant departure from current government policy,” he said.

“The Scottish Government need to set out exactly what they have in mind for Ukrainian refugees.

“I am also concerned that the tests by which the Government will determine whether to reopen their super sponsor scheme are opaque and ambiguous.

“No wonder that in private, officials tell me that they think it is unlikely the scheme will ever restart.

“The Scottish Government must provide some clarity for both Scottish public services and our Ukrainian guests.”

The minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine said: “Thanks in large part to Scotland’s Super Sponsor Scheme, we are now providing sanctuary to more displaced people from Ukraine per head of population than any other part of the UK.  Since the conflict began, more than 21,500 people with a Scottish sponsor have arrived in Scotland, representing more than 20% of all UK arrivals.

“As was made clear to Parliament this week, with many arrivals now in employment or receipt of social security benefits and therefore having a regular income, the Scottish Government will, where appropriate, make adjustments to hospitality provision and in some cases consider asking for a contribution to welcome accommodation where appropriate.

“This is also the direction that Wales is taking with their scheme. It will be more aligned with what is provided to guests in private host homes, as well as those living in other temporary rented accommodation. This is under careful consideration and any change to our offering will be communicated to people in advance of implementation.

“The review which produced the 16 interventions and seven criteria for reopening the scheme was led by the chief social policy adviser, Professor Linda Bauld, with broad engagement from subject matter experts across local government, the third sector and academia and benefitted from the lived experience of recently arrived Ukrainians.”

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