Briefings in September 2022: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. A copy of all briefings prepare for the (a) First Minister, (b) Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Culture and External Affairs and (c) Minister for special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine on the pressures faced in Edinburgh and/or Glasgow between in September 2022.

2. A copy of any options appraisals that were carried out in the process of identifying alternative temporary and longer term accommodation options for refugees from Ukraine.


We are unable to provide some of the information because an exemption applies. This is explained in more detail below:

In respect of your first request, an exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers and other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing relate to temporary and longer term accommodation options for refugees from Ukraine.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate.

However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy position on re-settlement and integration of people displaced people from Ukraine in Scotland. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

However, we can advise that the communication in Annex A was issued by the National Contact Centre to all super sponsor visa holders who had yet to travel to Scotland which highlights some of the pressures in Edinburgh and Glasgow within the timeframe you have requested.

In respect of your second request, I can advise that we have no record of any options appraisal being undertaken within this timeframe. This is therefore a formal notice under Section 17 of FOISA that the information you have requested is not held.



Dear [NAME]

We are writing to you as you have been issued with a UK visa with the Scottish Government as your sponsor (known as the ‘Scottish super sponsor scheme’).

It is important you understand that there is almost no temporary accommodation available in Edinburgh, Glasgow and surrounding areas (known as the ‘central belt’ of Scotland). What is available is being prioritised for families.

However if you are in unsafe situation with no alternative arrangements and decide to travel to Scotland,

we are asking you to consider arranging your own accommodation arrangements before you travel. For example booking your own hotel or self-catering accommodation, staying with people you know and trust (friends and family) or renting privately.

When you arrive in Scotland please present at a Welcome Hub or contact your local authority so you can get helpful information on working here, schools and other support available in Scotland.

If you have no alternative and need short term government-arranged temporary accommodation, be aware that this accommodation will be located away from the central belt or in less urban areas across Scotland.

It is expected that any stay in government-arranged temporary accommodation will be short-term and only until alternative accommodation or a volunteer host are allocated to you or you make your own private arrangements.

If you are currently safe, please consider this information to help inform your choices about whether to come to Scotland. If you have trusted, alternative options available to you to reach a place of safety, we strongly encourage you to consider them.

We continue to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and will continue to provide safety and sanctuary to those who arrive in Scotland who need it most. We will continue to provide you with regular updates on the situation in Scotland.

About FOI

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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