SNP minister admits Ukrainian refugees have been staying in hotels ‘too long’

Ukrainian Refugee Minister of the Scottish Government Neil Gray

THE SNP minister overseeing Ukraine’s resettlement ‘super godfather’ program has admitted that refugees are staying in hotels for ‘too long’.

Concerns have been raised that due to the nature of the super sponsorship scheme, where the Scottish Government acts as a sponsor to allow more people to enter Scotland, it means families face a wait in temporary accommodation before being matched with hosts.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald last month, UK Refugees Minister Lord Harrington warned that the Scottish Government’s super sponsorship scheme had left those fleeing war “stranded in hotels”.

SNP Minister for Ukrainian Refugees Neil Gray has now admitted that people are being kept in hotels for too long and something needs to be done.

READ MORE: UK minister warns of SNP sponsorship scheme leaving Ukrainian refugees ‘stuck in hotels’

He was quizzed at Holyrood on the matter by Tory Chief Whip Stephen Kerr.

Mr Kerr asked how many Ukrainians had arrived in Scotland and the number “who were matched with families in houses”, how many stayed in hotels and what was the average length of stay for people in temporary accommodation.

The minister declined to answer specifics, but acknowledged things needed to improve.

Mr Gray: “I think it is fair for me to say that there are people who are currently in hotels in Scotland who have been there too long.

“We want to do everything we can, working with our third sector, our local government partners, to ensure that our property verification process, ensuring that disclosure checks are carried out, which makes the program super safest sponsor – alongside the Welsh program – in the UK, happens as quickly as possible.

Mr Gray also stressed the importance of ensuring the national matchmaking service is properly funded and “making sure that we use the expressions of interest that have taken place”.

Labor MP Foysol Choudhury, pointed to evidence provided to Holyrood that “hundreds of Ukrainians have been stuck in temporary accommodation for months”.

READ MORE: Ukrainian families in Scotland face problems with nurseries and schools

He added: “The Scottish Government needs to make sure it knows what success looks like in a super sponsor scheme and how it can address these issues to avoid further misery.”

Earlier, LibDems MP Jamie Stone called on UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to intervene to address the issue of people stranded in hotels.

MPs for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross have raised the village of Golspie which is set to house seven Ukrainian families.

He said: “There’s no shortage of people in the Highlands who are volunteering to host these good people, and they’re getting as far as the UK, but they seem to be stuck in hotels and not reaching the families of the Highlands.

“Can I ask the Home Secretary to speak to the Scottish Government with a view to resolving this blockage?”

Ms Patel said she would investigate “where the obstacles are”.

She added: “The interest of Homes for Ukraine and the work across government is that where there are bottlenecks we absolutely need to unblock them and ensure safe passage, but also that people are welcomed in the right way and above all so that they can be settled and that their needs are met as soon as they arrive in our country. »

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