13. As set out in the publication 'Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme in Scotland: Statistics' (October 2022) contact information for 10,025 potential volunteer hosts were provided to local authorities with around 5,485 remaining 'active' following outreach activity. This includes potential or current hosts that local authority teams are actively engaged with, for example, concluding checks, finalising matches or supporting new placements. Volunteer hosts are able to claim £350 monthly 'thank-you' payments from councils once guests are staying with them. The Scottish Government continues to press the UK Government to increase these payments to better reflect the rising cost of living.
14. Of course matching is a two-way process, with resettlement leads listening and taking account of the needs and preferences of Ukrainian arrivals. Many people may prefer to live in areas close to amenities and services, or near to pre-existing Ukrainian communities. In addition, volunteer hosts have their own preferences and/or may not be able to provide space for larger family sizes or more complex group compositions.
15. What has become clear in the past weeks and months is that, due to the on-going war in Ukraine, these displaced communities will very likely need to stay in Scotland into the medium and longer-term. We know many Ukrainians ideally hoped their stay would be temporary. We have remained clear they are welcome and that Scotland is their home as long as they need it to be. Moving from mass evacuation and into longer-term integration, a mixture of accommodation is required to meet the needs of arrivals and the differing composition of groups - from families to individuals.
16. The Scottish Government is firmly committed to working with partners to reduce the length of stay in short-term accommodation and support integration into our communities. Local authority resettlement teams are working across welcome hub accommodation, leading sensitive conversations with Ukrainian guests to identify and make suitable offers of longer-term accommodation, including social housing, volunteer hosts or – where suitable – private rental.
17. To support these conversations and provide improved strategic coordination across local authority boundaries, a national matching service was established in partnership with COSLA enhanced by further digital improvements. To date, an estimated 2,790 super sponsor visa holders have been matched into longer-term accommodation by local authority resettlement leads. This equates to around 1,420 cases (for example groups or families), with around a quarter supported by the national service.
18. The Scottish Government has also put in place targeted capital investment to help bring social housing back into use as longer-term accommodation. This work includes early investment in North Lanarkshire to begin refurbishment of 200 properties and led to the establishment of a dedicated £50 million 'Ukraine Longer-Term Resettlement Fund', announced in September.
19. This dedicated capital investment fund is aimed at councils and registered social landlords with £486,000 already awarded to North Ayrshire Council and £6.1 million now committed to Aberdeen City Council to bring up to 500 void properties back into use. The Scottish Government continues to work with local authorities across Scotland to identify potential properties and help bring forward proposals.
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