More than two months after Russia’s invasion, I know some of you have been able to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the fighting into your communities – and your own homes too, via the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
The LGA continues to work hard with government to ensure new arrivals are supported and kept safe, with our influence felt in improved guidance to councils and more and better data provided about arrivals and their sponsors.
However, concerns remain – including about the quality and consistency of data, accommodation and safeguarding checks, and funding.
As first was going to press, councils were only being told who was arriving in their areas via Homes for Ukraine; but they also need advance notice of new arrivals under the Ukraine Family Scheme, and the funding to support them when they are here.
While council discretion in respect of accommodation checks is welcome, it currently means councils are bearing both the legal and reputational risks of making the judgements about what is suitable.
And we don’t have guidance on what to do if children arrive with adults who are not their parents or carers – whether that’s other family members, or strangers. It’s unclear if councils are expected to take those children into care.
Meanwhile, councils are still supporting the victims of other conflicts, including thousands of Afghan and Syrian refugees – many of them still accommodated ‘temporarily’ in hotels.
The Government’s plans for a ‘full dispersal’ system, under which all regions in England, Wales and Scotland would be expected to take asylum seekers, is a welcome step forward.
The LGA wants to see all the current schemes for supporting new and recent arrivals joined up, and the establishment of a joint taskforce, similar to the Brexit committee: more needs to be done to create an effective, safe, sustainable and humane asylum system.