Cabinet minister Michael Gove is interested in housing a refugee from Ukraine, as he revealed he is “exploring” how to personally support those fleeing the Russian invasion.
The leveling up minister set out details of the new sponsorship route, allowing Britons to offer homes to Ukrainian refugees and receive a “thank you” payment of £350 per month.
Asked on the BBC’s sunday morning program he would take in a Ukrainian refugee, Mr Gove said: “Yes.”
He added: “I’m exploring what I can do, I know that there are others who have. Without going into my personal circumstances, there are a couple of things I need to sort out – but yes.”
Mr Gove also indicated during a Times Radio interview that he would be willing to house a refugee himself – saying he was interested in doing so and “exploring what I can do”.
Grilled if he would house a refugee or was thinking about it, he replied: “I have particular personal circumstances which I won’t bore you with, which just require me to work one or two details out.”
Mr Gove said “tens of thousands” of refugees could come through the route, and revealed that local authorities would receive £10,000 for each Ukrainian refugee sponsored in their area.
People sponsoring refugees through the new uncapped route will be required to commit to the scheme for a minimum of six months – but will be encouraged to keep up the offer for as long as they can.
Sponsored refugees will be granted 36 months leave to remain in the UK, with entitlement to benefits and public services. Those offering accommodation will be vetoed and Ukrainian applicants will undergo security checks.
Opposition parties expressed concern about the “slow and cumbersome” offer, and whether local authorities would be given enough support.
Charities also questioned the “bureaucratic” process which will see British sponsors go through online paperwork and security checks on behalf of a particular “named” refugee.
The Refugee Council said the government was putting too many “bureaucratic hurdles” in the way – and said the scene “will inevitably be restricted to those who are known to people in the UK”.
But Mr Gove said charities would help in the “matching process” – and said the government believed individuals and community groups would use social media to connect with refugees.
Mr Gove told Sky News’ Sophie Ridge on Sunday: “We know charities, and we are working with them, who are working to identify people on the ground, and helping to identify people here to create the matching process.”
The Independent is also raising money for the people of Ukraine – if you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.
The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.