I know that many are frustrated with the pace in which applications are being processed. We all want to see the process working more quickly than it is, however it has been important to balance the need to move rapidly with ensuring that the scheme is designed correctly. I have been reassured that progress is being made on fine-tuning the scheme's practicalities and logistics. We should see many more Ukrainians arrive as soon as possible.
I understand that once the initial checks and matching process has taken place, councils will be alerted. They will then be expected to go out and inspect the host's property to ensure it is appropriate for such people's needs. It is clear that a wide range of services from local government will be required so that every possible support is in place to make this scheme a success. I am therefore pleased to hear that councils will be provided with £10,500 per guest. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has said that this will be kept under review to ensure local government has the necessary resources it needs.
I have been informed that Oxfordshire County Council have now received detailed guidance and will be cascading this information down. Cherwell District Council have been coordinating our local response and are setting up the systems and processes to respond to the national scheme. I continue to offer my support to the Council and community groups with local mobilisation. I look forward to meeting the Leader and CEO of Cherwell on Monday to discuss next steps.
We were delighted to welcome our first Ukrainian refugee to the village yesterday.
My team and I continue to receive many requests for help, but we have also received hundreds of emails from constituents offering their homes, support, and kindness to Ukrainians. The generosity displayed by the people of North Oxfordshire has been overwhelming.
I warmly welcome the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme which will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses in the UK to bring Ukrainians to safety - including those with no family ties with the UK. Ukrainians arriving in the UK under this scheme will be granted three years' leave to remain, with entitlement to work, and access benefits and public services.
The scheme will be rolled out in phases. Initially, individual members of the public have opted to sponsor named guests to come and live with them for a minimum of 6 months. An incredible 150,000 have recorded their interest so far. The scheme will subsequently be expanded to enable organisations and community groups to sponsor multiple guests. Details of this future phase will be announced shortly.
It is through the visa processes that requests will be triggered to local authorities for support. I know that Cherwell District Council are coordinating the local response and are setting up the systems and processes to respond to the national scheme. Such joined-up thinking will be crucial.
It is clear that a wide range of services from local government will be required. I continue to offer my support to the Council and community groups with local mobilisation. I have been in regular contact with the Home Office throughout and will continue to relay any concerns directly to the Home Secretary.
I will share updates when I receive them.
Events in Ukraine are truly devastating. I was fortunate enough to visit Kyiv back in October - it is a remarkable city. As a family, we have many friends in Kyiv and have been in touch with them over the past week.
My team and I are working hard to support constituents with loved ones caught up in the conflict in Ukraine. If this is directly impacting you please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is at times like this when communities really pull together. Led by Magdalena Kwiecińska, the Polish community in Banbury has set up a collection for food, bedding and other necessary supplies for Ukrainians who have sought refuge on the border.
Anyone wishing to donate supplies can do so at various drop-off points this week. I understand that a team of volunteers will then sort through and package the items ready to be handed to the Polish Army and firefighters at the collection points at Budziszow near the border.
I hope that many will donate to this cause.