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6 Jan, 2024 14:59

Scotland cuts Ukrainian refugee support – media

The government reportedly refused to provide £10 million for housing those fleeing hostilities
Scotland cuts Ukrainian refugee support – media

The Scottish government has refused to allocate £10 million ($12.7 million) to local authorities to help them meet the costs of providing temporary accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, the Daily Record reported on Friday.

As a result, officials said they may pull staff from the hotels that have been housing Ukrainian refugees at the state's expense, according to the news outlet.

Labour MSP Mark Griffin said the decision not to continue the funding would be a “betrayal” for the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) if it failed to “live up to its lofty rhetoric” of supporting Ukraine, the paper reported.

“We have real concerns that the changes and withdrawal of previously anticipated funding for 23/24 will result in unintended consequences and impact the country’s support program as a whole,” deputy leader of Edinburgh Council Mandy Watt told the Daily Record.

More than 20,000 people from Ukraine have come to the UK through Scotland's “super sponsorship” scheme, social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said in December. Under the program, Ukrainians could choose the Scottish government as a visa sponsor, which allowed them to quickly get permission to come to Scotland and be temporarily housed. Many of them were placed in hotels and on cruise ships.

“Our welcome accommodation ensures that we can offer everyone who needs it an initial safe place to stay. However, we do not want people to spend longer than necessary without a settled place to call home,” Somerville said.

Ukrainians have been fleeing to the UK in search of refuge since the conflict between Moscow and Kiev escalated in February 2022. However, a study for the British Red Cross published last month revealed that thousands of Ukrainians could face “homelessness” this winter.

“We expect thousands of men, women, and children from Ukraine to become homeless here in the UK,” said Olivia Field, head of policy and advocacy at the British Red Cross. She added that it is “difficult” for them to get the help they need to find long-term housing, and they are “often unable to meet upfront rental costs.”

Britain faces a housing deficit that would take “at least half a century to fill,” the Center for Cities think tank estimated last year. It said the UK had a backlog of 4.3 million homes compared to the average European country.

The large influx of Ukrainian refugees is also affecting neighboring Ireland, which is dealing with a housing crisis, too. Three out of five people in Ireland believe the country has taken in too many Ukrainians, according to a Business Post/Red C poll published in late November.

The Irish government will cut welfare rates and reduce the time new arrivals from Ukraine can stay in public housing to 90 days, starting at the end of January, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.