Information

Super sponsor scheme - homes for Ukraine: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.


Information requested

‘On Saturday 12th March 2022 a joint meeting/call was held with Michael Gove (Cabinet Secretary for Levelling up, Housing and Communities), Richard Harrington (Minister for Refugees) and the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales during which the UK Government’s plans for their ‘Homes for Ukraine’, humanitarian sponsorship scheme was set out. Later that same day, a joint letter from the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales was sent to Michael Gove proposing that the Scottish and Welsh governments act as ‘super-sponsors’.

Please provide information to the following questions.

1. What time on Saturday 12th March was the joint letter from the First Ministers of Scotland/Wales setting out their proposed ‘super-sponsor’ scheme sent to Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove following their earlier meeting of the same day, where the UK Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme was discussed?

2. The First Minister’s letter together with an update titled ‘Ukraine Refugee Sponsorship’ was published on the NEWS section of the Scottish Government website at 00.01 on the 13th March. An article titled ‘Scotland and Wales want to act as Ukrainian refugee ‘super sponsors’ was published on The Guardian’s website at 00.01 on the 13th March. An article titled ‘Nicola Sturgeon wants Scotland to become ‘super sponsor’ for refugees’ was published on ‘The Scotsman’ website at 12.01am on the 13th March. Please confirm what time/date a copy of the First Minister’s letter to Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove was sent to the Scottish government’s media contacts at ‘The Guardian’/The Scotsman’ newspapers.

3. Please provide details of any other media/newspapers which were sent a copy of the letter which included details of the proposed ‘super sponsor’ scheme. Please include date/time sent. On Monday 14th March Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove presented a statement to MPs in Parliament announcing the UK Government’s new sponsorship scheme ‘Homes for Ukraine’ and the launch of an associated website for potential ‘sponsors’ to record their interest. This statement was followed by a debate.

4. Please provide information setting out what the reasons were for the Scottish government releasing the First Ministers letter outlining a proposal for ‘super sponsor’ scheme to the media, before Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove had announced the (UK wide) Homes for Ukraine scheme in Parliament.

5. Please provide information on who, together with the first Minister, was involved with making this decision.

6. Please provide information which outlines the general policy of the Scottish government’s media/communications team regarding releasing information relating to proposed Scottish government policy and funding commitments to media/journalists before presenting these details to the Scottish parliament or publishing the information on the Scottish government website?

7. Please provide information on the number of civil servants working on the Scottish government super sponsor proposal up to and including the 14th March (not including media staff).

In the First Minister’s letter outlining the proposed ‘super sponsor’ scheme to Cabinet Secretary Gove (March 12th) an immediate commitment to support ‘3000 Ukrainians in the ‘initial wave’ was made. The Scottish government update also noted; ‘The letter makes clear that no cap will be set by Scotland and Wales on the numbers of refugees they will welcome’.

8. Please provide information relating to any initial assessments that were made to establish the levels of temporary accommodation across Scotland, which could potentially be made available for Ukrainians applying to the Scottish government’s proposed super sponsor scheme.q

9. Please provide information relating to any preliminary work carried out by the Scottish government at this stage to establish indicative costs for the temporary accommodation to be provided under the First Minister’s ‘super sponsor’ proposals.’

Response

1. What time on Saturday 12th March was the joint letter from the First Ministers of Scotland/Wales setting out their proposed ‘super-sponsor’ scheme sent to Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove following their earlier meeting of the same day, where the UK Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme was discussed?

While we strive to provide information wherever possible, in this case an exemption under Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. This is because the First Minister’s emails are routinely deleted after a period of three months. The First Minister’s private office have confirmed that the meeting you have referenced took place on Friday 11 March.

2. The First Minister’s letter together with an update titled ‘Ukraine Refugee Sponsorship’ was published on the NEWS section of the Scottish Government website at 00.01 on the 13th March. An article titled ‘Scotland and Wales want to act as Ukrainian refugee ‘super sponsors’ was published on The Guardian’s website at 00.01 on the 13th March. An article titled ‘Nicola Sturgeon wants Scotland to become ‘super sponsor’ for refugees’ was published on ‘The Scotsman’ website at 12.01am on the 13th March. Please confirm what time/date a copy of the First Minister’s letter to Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove was sent to the Scottish government’s media contacts at ‘The Guardian’/The Scotsman’ newspapers.

12 March 2022 at 16:02.

3. Please provide details of any other media/newspapers which were sent a copy of the letter which included details of the proposed ‘super sponsor’ scheme. Please include date/time sent.

12 March 2022 at 16:02.
Central FM, The National, Press & Journal, AFP London, BBC, ITN, Bauer Media, JPI Media, DCT Media, Scotsman, Bloomberg, 2LR, STV, Sky, Holyrood Magazine, Herald, Thomson Reuters, Politico, The Guardian, ITV, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Broadcasting Scotland, The Times, CityAM, iNews, Daily Record, The Sun, Global, Radio Clyde, Daily Mirror, Associated Press, Telegraph, GB News, Deadline News, Capital FM, The Courier, SPP Media, Trinity Mirror, Glasgow Live, Scots Independent (Newspapers) Limited, Big Issue, Sunday Times, Go Radio, Evening Standard, Press Association, Kingdom FM, Left Foot Forward, The Independent, Sunday Post, Financial Times, Evening Times, Northsound 1, Original 106 FM, Flag Media, Reach PLC, Pure Radio, Huffington Post,, Radio Forth One, Radio Tay, Newsquest, AJL, Scottish Business News, The Conversation, GPSJ, The Central Scotland News Agency, The Edinburgh Reporter.

4. Please provide information setting out what the reasons were for the Scottish government releasing the First Ministers letter outlining a proposal for ‘super sponsor’ scheme to the media, before Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove had announced the (UK wide) Homes for Ukraine scheme in Parliament.

and

5. Please provide information on who, together with the first Minister, was involved with making this decision
.

In response to questions 4 and 5, while we strive to provide information wherever possible, in this case an exemption under Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

6. Please provide information which outlines the general policy of the Scottish government’s media/communications team regarding releasing information relating to proposed Scottish government policy and funding commitments to media/journalists before presenting these details to the Scottish parliament or publishing the information on the Scottish government website?

In response to question 6, while we strive to provide information wherever possible, in this case an exemption under Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. However, the Scottish Government strives to operate in line with advice from the Presiding Officer to inform parliament of any substantive policy or spending decisions once agreed.

7. Please provide information on the number of civil servants working on the Scottish government super sponsor proposal up to and including the 14th March (not including media staff).

On 14 March there were 7 Scottish Government officials working directly on the response to the Ukraine Crisis. They also received input from across government including SGORR, finance and communications teams.

8. Please provide information relating to any initial assessments that were made to establish the levels of temporary accommodation across Scotland, which could potentially be made available for Ukrainians applying to the Scottish government’s proposed super sponsor scheme.

and

9. Please provide information relating to any preliminary work carried out by the Scottish government at this stage to establish indicative costs for the temporary accommodation to be provided under the First Minister’s ‘super sponsor’ proposals.


In response to questions 8 and 9, while we strive to provide information wherever possible, in this case an exemption under Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. The decision was taken at pace in response to an immediate humanitarian crisis and on the back of decisions by the UK Government. In the circumstances, the First Minister considered and took what the Scottish Government believed to be the appropriate course of action. This was partly based on lessons learned from the Syrian refugee response as well as the need to address the challenges within UK Government’s approach and offer sanctuary to people in immediate danger.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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