By Bill Heaney
The SNP government have been accused of “betraying” brave Ukrainian refugees after shocking new figures revealed that more than 7,500 of them are still in temporary accommodation in Scotland.
Responses to Scottish Conservative Freedom of Information requests show that around one third of the 23,000 Ukrainian refugees who have come to Scotland since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 are waiting to be given a permanent home.
Shadow housing and social justice secretary Miles Briggs said the refugees had been “woefully let-down” by SNP ministers, who had to pause their Super Sponsor Scheme last July because they couldn’t cope with the number of Ukrainians they had invited to Scotland.
The figures come in the wake of reports of one Ukrainian family that had settled in Fife subsequently being shunted to temporary accommodation 130 miles away in Dumfries.
Miles Briggs MSP, pictured right, said: “The fact that so many thousands of Ukrainian refugees are still holed up in temporary accommodation more than a year after the first of them arrived in Scotland is unacceptable.
“It represents a shocking betrayal by an SNP government that over-promises and under-delivers.
“These are vulnerable people who fled Putin’s brutal invasion of their homeland, and they have been woefully let down by ministers.
“The SNP had to pause their much-trumpeted Super Sponsor Scheme after it turned out that, typically, they had over-estimated their ability to cope with the number of refugees.
“Despite the fact that, under their watch, Scotland already had a drastic shortage of housing – exacerbated by their interference in the rental market – they made entirely unrealistic promises which they were unable to keep.
“As a result, families have been shunted around or kept in accommodation that isn’t suitable for the long term.
“That is a shameful way to treat people who want simply to get on with their lives in peace, and to whom the SNP Government held out false hope.”
More than 7500 Ukrainian refugees are currently stuck in temporary accommodation. FOIs obtained from 30 out of 32 councils have indicated that there are 7,596 Ukrainian refugees in temporary accommodation, 1862 of which are children. The local authority with the highest number of Ukrainian refugees in temporary accommodation was Edinburgh City Council with 2945, of which 823 are children, followed by Glasgow with 2,058, of which 288 are children. Argyll and Bute and Inverclyde did not respond to the request for information, while Fife Council indicated that they do not hold the requested data. (FOIs available on request).
Nearly 23,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Scotland since February 2022. Since Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, nearly 23,000 people have fled Ukraine and have arrived in Scotland, according to the Scottish Refugee Council. (Scottish Refugee Council, 21 March 2023, link).
The SNP Government’s Super Sponsor Scheme has been paused since July 2022. The SNP Government’s Super Sponsor Scheme removed the need for applicants to be matched to an individual sponsor prior to being given permission to travel to the UK, with guests being matched with an eligible host. However, the scheme has been paused since 13 July 2022, and the SNP Government has given no indication of resuming the scheme. (The Scottish Government, 7 March 2023, link).
A Ukrainian family initially situated in Fife was offered temporary accommodation 130 miles away in Dumfries and Galloway. Tetiana Repa’s family moved to Cupar, Fife after fleeing the war in Ukraine last year. However, after their accommodation arrangement ended, Fife Council offered the family temporary accommodation, 132 miles away, in a hotel in Dumfries. This is despite Repa and her family having already settled in Cupar for work and schooling. (BBC, 13 April 2023, link).