Fylde Homes have been the most generous in Lancashire in offering their homes to Ukrainian refugees through the Government sponsorship route.

The latest figures from the Ministry of the Interior show that, as of May 3, 96 visas had been issued to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion and who had sponsors in the area through the Homes for Ukraine program. That equates to 118 per 100,000 residents, more per capita than anywhere else in the county area.

Chichester in Sussex had the highest per capita, at 272 per 100,000, followed by South Cambridgeshire (270 per 100,000) and South Oxfordshire (262 per 100,000). Many of the areas receiving the most refugees per capita are prosperous, with eight of the top 10 in the South East or London.

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This may suggest that people in those places are, on average, better able to help in terms of space and resources. In Lancashire, Ribble Valley had the next highest number relative to its local population at 92 per 100,000, followed by Lancaster (74 per 100,000). The figures show a clear trend that more affluent areas are in a better position to open their homes, while more deprived areas are unable to do so.

Overall, 784 visas had been issued to Ukrainians to stay with hosts across the area by May 3. The Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched on March 18 to allow Ukrainian citizens to come to the UK if they have a designated sponsor who can provide accommodation.

It is one of two government-run programmes, with the separate Ukraine Family Scheme allowing Ukrainians to reunite with relatives already in the UK. The family scheme was launched on March 4, but was quickly overtaken by household sponsorship in terms of the number of visas awarded.

The latest national figures show that about 59,100 (62%) of the 95,500 visas issued through both routes as of May 5 were through Homes for Ukraine. They also show for the first time that more people have now arrived to stay with a sponsor from home (19,500) than to join family members (17,900) as of May 3.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme has faced criticism for delays since it was launched, with some hosts threatening legal action against the government on behalf of the people they are sponsoring.

Enver Solomon, executive director of the Refugee Council, said he was “deeply concerned” by the many stories the charity was hearing of people facing long wait times for permission to travel. He said: “They urgently need to find safety in the UK and face unnecessary hurdle after hurdle in doing so.

“We are hearing that visas for all members of a family who have applied together are not always processed together, causing significant delays in their ability to travel to the UK. We also hear that people are having real difficulties receiving emails, or are receiving emails at different times from other members of their family, all of which is causing significant distress and delays.

“Responding to what is clearly a serious humanitarian crisis by offering only visa routes was doomed to fail. It amounts to putting paperwork and bureaucracy before people who have no choice but to leave their homes.”

A government spokesman said: “Thanks to the generosity of the public who have offered their homes to Ukrainians fleeing war and through our Ukraine Family Scheme, almost 95,500 visas have been granted and almost 37,400 Ukrainians have arrived safely. to the UK.

“We are processing thousands of visas a day; this shows that the changes we made to optimize the service are working and we will continue to build on this success so that we can speed up the process even more.”


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