The government has announced that it would provide a monthly £350 payment – tax-free and without benefit or council tax changes – to anyone in the UK who provides accommodation for at least six months to those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
Announcing the details, communities secretary Michael Gove said the number of Ukrainians arriving in the UK is ‘rapidly increasing’ and the pace will continue to rise, with the ‘unfailingly compassionate British public’ ready to help.
Speaking in parliament on Monday afternoon, Mr Gove said: ‘From tomorrow, Ukrainians with passports will be able to apply for UK visas entirely online without having to visit visa application centres.
‘Ukrainians arriving in the United Kingdom will also have access to the full range of public services, doctors, schools, and full local authority support.’
He added: ‘Of course, we want to minimise bureaucracy and make the process as straightforward as possible, while also doing everything we can to ensure the safety of all involved.
‘Sponsors will therefore be required to undergo necessary vetting checks. We’re also streamlining processes to security-assess the status of all Ukrainians, who will be arriving in the UK.’
The government announcement comes as council leaders across the region report residents stepping forward to support those in need.
Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward said he had been ‘absolutely besieged’ by residents who are interested in the scheme.
He said: ‘We're absolutely supportive, we must do everything we can, this particular scheme is aimed at residential home owners - we’re all inpatient to get on with it.
Graham Burgess, leader of Gosport Borough Council, said the authority had also been contacted with offers of accommodation for refugees.
He said: ‘If people can do it, offer it to people, many of whom are traumatised - I fully support it.’
But the government came under criticism from the leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who said the response from ministers had so far been ‘pathetic’.
The Liberal Democrat politician said: ‘We have left families sleeping on the streets of Calais unable to get into the country weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
‘The city council has made some early preparations following the announcement over the weekend but we have had very limited information from the government which makes detailed planning difficult.'
Hampshire Council Council said it was also making preparations to support Ukrainians arriving into the county.
Anyone wishing to find out more or take part in the Homes for Ukraine scheme should visit the government website homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk.