Ukraine - A Warm Scots Future: policy position

This publication has been written in partnership with COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council. This paper outlines the transition from an emergency response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, to a long-term and holistic approach that supports the integration of displaced people from Ukraine.

From a ‘Warm Scots Welcome’ to a ‘Warm Scots Future’

The war against Ukraine has forced millions of people to leave their homes in search of safety. As the conflict continues, homes and critical infrastructure in Ukraine have been damaged and destroyed. Many of those who have sought safety in Scotland may find that if they returned to Ukraine now, they would be without accommodation and unable to meet their basic needs. Furthermore, most displaced people from Ukraine who have arrived in the UK feel they have a strong personal connection and around a half plan to live here most of the time - even when they feel it is safe to return to Ukraine.[10]

The Scottish response has been informed by the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2018-22[11]. This was developed in partnership between the Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Refugee Council to continue Scotland’s established New Scots approach to support refugees and people seeking asylum from day one of arrival as well as building longer-term integration. The Warm Scots Welcome programme focused on meeting the immediate needs of displaced people from Ukraine. It is clear that a move towards a longer-term and more sustainable response is required. This is underlined by the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) expectation that focus will switch from emergency response to supporting governments in fostering the inclusion of refugees in national systems.[12]

Over the past year, the economic and financial context that local and national government have been working in has become increasingly difficult and there are substantial challenges facing both the Scottish Government and its partners. Alongside increased financial constraints, recent years have seen increased pressure on Scotland’s social and private rental sectors, where demand outstrips supply. There is a high volume of open homelessness applications and a variety of demands on housing, including meeting Scotland’s continued commitment to offering sanctuary to refugees from across the globe.

Scotland remains committed to welcoming and supporting displaced people from Ukraine and will build on that by focusing increasingly and primarily on integration to better support people who arrive in Scotland. To support this transition, five overarching and interlinked strategic priorities have been identified to guide the next phase of Scotland’s Ukraine response. The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with COSLA, the third sector and local authority partners to deliver on our joint ambition. Of paramount importance will be ensuring this work is taken forward in line with the ambitions of the Verity House Agreement,[13] which promotes a ‘local by default, and national by agreement’ approach with local government.

Five Strategic Priorities for Scotland’s Ukraine Response

1. A trauma-informed, holistic and rights-based approach to long-term integration

2. Reduce reliance on welcome accommodation

3. Boost long-term, settled housing that leaves a legacy for Scotland

4. Pursue clarity on routes to settlement, family reunification and repatriation

5. Continued partnership and collaboration, ensuring good governance and recognising the lived experience of displaced people from Ukraine

The focus on trauma-informed, holistic, rights-based integration is set firmly in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)[14] and Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF).[15]

This diagram presents a summary of Scotland’s National Performance Framework. This outlines the outcomes that must be achieved in order to meet our aims of creating a more successful country by; giving opportunities to all people living in Scotland; increasing the wellbeing of people living in Scotland; creating sustainable and inclusive growth; reducing inequalities and giving equal importance to economic, environmental and social progress.

To make the transition from an emergency response to a long-term approach, Scotland will learn from and build on the successes to date. These include the initial provision of accommodation to many thousands of people who arrived under the Scottish super sponsor scheme, as well as many years of successful refugee integration. This will endeavour to be an evidence-informed approach, drawing on data, research, international best practice and, importantly, the lived experience of displaced people from Ukraine living in Scotland. More specifically, the approach will be informed by the existing evidence from the evaluation of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2018-22.[16]

Recognising the financial landscape

In December 2022, the Scottish Government set out its spending and tax plans for 2023-24. The Scottish Government has committed to investing £70 million in the Ukrainian Resettlement programme to ensure Ukrainians continue to receive a Warm Scots Welcome and are supported to rebuild their lives in our communities for as long as they need to call Scotland their home. This builds on the significant funding of over £200 million provided by the Scottish Government to support the Ukrainian Resettlement programme in 2022-23.

As part of spending commitments for this financial year, the Scottish Government will provide £3.2 million to support staffing of local authority resettlement teams, which maintains the funding level provided in 2022-23. The Scottish Government has also allocated over £1.5 million to third sector organisations for 2023-24. The Scottish Government is continuing to offer temporary welcome accommodation on arrival for those that need it. However, this type of accommodation is not conducive to good integration outcomes.

Scotland will receive £30 million from the UK-wide allocation of £150 million to support Ukrainians into their own homes and prevent homelessness. A model for distributing this money in Scotland was agreed by local authorities in August. This is based on the number of displaced people from Ukraine in each local authority area (50% weighting) and wider housing pressures as included in the adjusted Strategic Housing Investment Framework (50% weighting). This funding is to help local authorities support people displaced from Ukraine into sustainable longer- term settled accommodation, including the private rented sector and social housing, and to provide on-going employability and wider integration support advice and coordination. However, this is alongside significant cuts to the resettlement tariff funding local authorities receive from the UK government to provide vital integration support for people displaced from Ukraine.

Commitments to further and future funding are not within the scope of this policy position paper. However, the Scottish Government recognises the challenging economic conditions within which national and local government, and third sector partners are operating, and will work towards delivering the strategic priorities set out in this paper. Additionally, at time of publication, no clarity has been provided by the UK Government regarding future tariff or alternative funding to support the integration of displaced Ukrainians, or for those seeking repatriation at the end of their visa’s validity.

Strategic Priority 1: Support a holistic, trauma-informed and rights-based approach to long-term integration

The next phase of Scotland’s response will draw on the holistic and rights-based approach to successful integration set out in the pioneering and collaborative New Scots approach. This approach is based on the Ager and Strang integration framework[17] which puts rights at its foundation.

New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy

New Scots has been developed and led in partnership by the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council.

The first New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy was published in 2014 as a pioneering approach to support refugees, people seeking asylum and communities across Scotland.

The second strategy was published in 2018[18], continuing Scotland’s commitment to support refugees. It sets out a holistic approach to successful integration which is underpinned by five principles:

  • integration from day one
  • a rights-based approach
  • refugee involvement
  • inclusive communities
  • partnership and collaboration.

The Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council have committed to refresh the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy.

The Scottish approach will be trauma-informed and give consideration to the complex needs of displaced people from Ukraine, which in many cases will mirror those experienced by people seeking asylum and other refugees in Scotland.

The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy recognises that if people are able to integrate early, particularly into education, work and housing, they make positive contributions to communities, society, and the economy. A University of Glasgow report considering integration for refugees in Scotland also highlighted the importance of a trauma-informed integration process to ensure the promotion of displaced people’s agency through supporting them to achieve their goals and collaboration between community groups, local and national government.[19]


Like refugees and those seeking asylum, Ukrainians have been forced to leave their communities. Some may feel this loss more strongly than others, but it is important that displaced people arriving in Scotland are able to build and become part of new communities. The Scottish Refugee Council and other third sector and community development organisations have considerable experience in supporting refugees and displaced people to form community groups and forums and supporting people to contribute to existing community organisations and wider society.

"I am very grateful my family and I are in Scotland, in Dumfries and Galloway… This is the most beautiful village... My children go to school in the village and the youngest goes to kindergarten. I am active in the community and treasurer of the community Gala Committee, and I also have a job just outside the village."

Displaced person from Ukraine

Employability and Welfare

The Scottish Government, COSLA and local government have a long-term focus on supporting people who need help to access the labour market. This work continues to be supported by partners in the third sector. A recent Scottish Government report highlighted the important potential economic contribution of displaced people from Ukraine. They could contribute up to £3 million in income tax receipts in 2023-24 if they earned the full-time Real Living Wage[20].

It is also important to consider the vision of a wellbeing economy set out in Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.[21] This commitment was reiterated in the First Minister’s priority prospectus ‘Equality, Opportunity, Community,[22] with a sharp focus on those policies and actions with the greatest potential to grow and change the economy, expand the tax base to fund sustainable public services and achieve better outcomes for people and communities across Scotland, including displaced people from Ukraine. This approach is aligned with the Scottish Government’s collaborative community wealth building focus, that aims to build wealth and prosperity for everyone.

Work is underway to consider the experience of displaced people from Ukraine when seeking employment. The Scottish Government, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and other partners have worked collaboratively to promote job opportunities, including through job fairs. An employability consultation group has been established to consider barriers to employment faced by Ukrainians. The group has taken recommendations from Ukrainians who have arrived in Scotland based on their experience, and is working to improve coordination across support agencies, to develop guidance and information on the labour market, how to find employment and how to access entrepreneurial support.

In Spring 2022, the Scottish Government amended legislation to ensure that eligible displaced people from Ukraine can access social security benefits such as the Scottish Child Payment from day one of arrival. Displaced people from Ukraine also have the right to access welfare benefits that remain reserved to the UK Government, such as Universal Credit. The benefits system can be complex to navigate, and local authority resettlement teams and third sector partners continue to play a critical role in supporting people to access the welfare benefits they are entitled to. With funding from the Scottish Government, the Scottish Refugee Council is working with displaced people from Ukraine to increase access to good quality information and services across Scotland. The Scottish Refugee Council currently assists displaced people from Ukraine in exercising their rights and accessing entitlements through their helpline, one-to-one support through their integration services, information sessions and the development of information resources.

Health and Wellbeing

Displaced people from Ukraine are entitled to access healthcare on the same basis as anyone who is resident in Scotland. However, understanding of these rights and entitlements, how to navigate NHS processes, and being able to access language support and interpretation services, can prevent people getting the care they need.

The Scottish Government has provided guidance to all Health Boards on what health provisions should be made to ensure that people are able to access local dental and GP practices. Information for Ukrainians on NHS Scotland services has also been published, including in the Ukrainian language.[23]

It is also important to recognise that health services are facing challenges that are not unique to Scotland and are being felt across the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government remains focussed on supporting services to address and alleviate these pressures.

Education and Language

All children in Scotland have the right to be provided with a school education. As of 26 May 2023, more than 3,000 Ukrainian children were enrolled in primary and secondary schools across Scotland. The Scottish Government has also amended legislation to ensure that displaced people from Ukraine are able to access further and higher education and are eligible for cost-of-living payments and free tuition.

Language is recognised as crucial to all elements of integration, as it supports people to understand their rights and entitlements, to access employment and education, and to build social connections. Following the arrival of displaced people from Ukraine, there has been an increase in demand on English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) services, and English language support in schools and the community.

Scotland values the language skills displaced people from Ukraine bring with them. For displaced people, bilingualism can be important for maintaining links with their family, culture and heritage.

Children and Young People

A quarter of all those who have arrived from Ukraine through Scottish sponsorship are under 18, and the challenges and barriers they may face in accessing key services, such as education and healthcare, will differ from those experienced by adults.

The Scottish Government is committed to providing all children, young people and their families with support so that every child and young person in Scotland can reach their full potential. Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC)[24] sets out this approach. All children in Scotland, regardless of their country of origin, should have access to the support they need to feel safe and thrive. Like many children and young people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, children and young people arriving from Ukraine have often suffered trauma and loss, and are in need of specialist support.

The first strategic priority provides the overarching guiding principles of the Scottish response, building on a long history and wealth of experience in successful refugee integration.

In line with this strategic priority, the Scottish Government will work with partners to:

  • support displaced people to regain their autonomy and reduce displacement- induced vulnerabilities
  • promote a consistent approach to integration support for all displaced people from Ukraine, learning and building from the experience of integration of other refugee groups in Scotland
  • continue to address the increased demand for English language support, including English for Speakers of other Languages provision, and ensure the experience of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people from Ukraine is recognised in the English for Speakers of other Languages review committed to in the Adult Learning Strategy[25]
  • continue to work with the four nations of the UK to provide rapid access to bespoke English language and employment support through a one-year pilot project that will be delivered by World Jewish Relief and the British Council. The free programme offers intensive online English language and employment support for Ukrainians who have arrived in the UK through the Ukraine sponsorship scheme, Family scheme and Extension scheme[26]
  • through the Warm Scots Welcome employability group, address barriers to employment in line with the principles of No One Left Behind,[27] our Scottish approach to all-age employability support
  • ensure the specific needs of displaced children and young people are recognised and supported, along with the additional vulnerabilities of unaccompanied children and young people
  • support improvement of mental health and wellbeing of displaced people, reflecting the vision and outcomes of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy[28]
  • ensure that support for integration continues to be trauma-informed, aligning with the National Trauma Training Programme and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Strategic Priority 2: Reduce reliance on welcome accommodation

The provision of welcome accommodation has been at the heart of Scotland’s ability to offer immediate sanctuary to displaced people from Ukraine. It has helped to ensure that the thousands of people arriving in the UK under the Scottish super sponsor scheme had a safe place to stay on arrival in Scotland.

Welcome accommodation is intended to provide safe temporary accommodation to those arriving under the Scottish super sponsor scheme in housing need until suitable longer-term accommodation is available. Although not established for this purpose, welcome accommodation has also offered ‘back up’ accommodation to those who have arrived through individual sponsorship without accommodation in place, or whose private arrangement has fallen through.

However, as highlighted in this paper, it is not a sustainable solution. From the outset, the Scottish Government and our partners have been clear that we do not want anyone to stay in welcome accommodation longer than necessary. Access to a settled home better supports integration and longer-term outcomes for refugees and displaced people. Additionally, prolonged stays in welcome accommodation can have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.[29]

A unique element of the Ukraine sponsorship ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme has been the addition of hosted accommodation – where a Ukrainian ‘guest’ stays in accommodation provided by a ‘host’. The ‘guest’ may have had their visa sponsored by their ‘host’, or they may have arrived with a different sponsor including the Scottish Government as super sponsor. Hosted accommodation is provided free of charge.

Hosting, and individual sponsorship, continue to play an important role in helping displaced people from Ukraine seeking safety in Scotland. It has offered an alternative to long stays in temporary welcome accommodation, and hosts often provide wraparound support to their guests not replicated in other accommodation settings. However, living in hosted accommodation is not suitable for everyone and is rarely a long-term solution.

Figure 5: Number of displaced people from Ukraine in welcome accommodation in Scotland. Data between 14 September 2022 and 10 July 2023 [30]
This graph shows the number of displaced people from Ukraine in welcome accommodation in Scotland from 14 September 2022 to 10 July 2023. On 14 September 2022, there were 6,540 people in welcome accommodation, this increased to a peak of 7,198 people in November 2022, and has decreased since then to 3,535 people in July 2023 (this is approximately half the amount we saw at the peak).

The Scottish Government and partners are working to reduce reliance on welcome accommodation – recognising that in addition to the impact of prolonged stays on displaced people, supporting welcome accommodation places pressure on local authority resettlement teams and resources. The estimated number of displaced people from Ukraine in welcome accommodation has more than halved from around 7,200 people in November 2022 to around 3,535 people in welcome accommodation in July 2023. This decrease is despite new arrivals, due to displaced people being matched into hosted or longer-term, settled accommodation as well as people finding housing through their own means.

Figure 6: Key statistics on matching and hosting

Accommodation and hosting:

  • as of 10 July 2023, there were around 3,535 displaced people from Ukraine in welcome accommodation across Scotland
  • as reported by local authorities between 25 January and 9 May 2023, around 6,000 people arriving on the Scottish super sponsor scheme had been placed into matched accommodation since the beginning of the scheme, including through self-matching

To note: an individual may have more than one match and as such counted multiple times in the total figures.

Additionally, cumulative local authority figures reported between 25 January and 4 May 2023 indicate that since the start of the scheme:

  • they are aware of at least 4,145 individuals arriving on visas with an individual sponsor arriving in matched accommodation in Scotland. This compares to 4,940 arrivals in the UK with an individual sponsor as reported by Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities at 4 July 2023
  • out of all the people that have been matched (arriving on any visa type: sponsored by the Scottish Government, individual sponsorship or the Family visa scheme) around 3,075 people had been placed directly into social or council housing across Scotland
Figure 7: Total number of individuals matched since the Scottish super sponsor scheme began, where individuals have arrived at their accommodation in Scotland. [31]
This image shows a map of Scotland, colour coded to show the number of individuals matched to each local authority area since the Scottish super sponsor scheme began. Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire, and Renfrewshire have the highest number of matches (300 or more individuals). Moray, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have the lowest (under 50 individuals).

The process of matching displaced people into hosted or settled accommodation can be challenging for both displaced people from Ukraine and local authority matching teams. It is often a lengthy and time-consuming process, without clearly defined parameters. For some, the impact of trauma makes this transition especially difficult. Despite these challenges, it is the primary way in which people have been supported to make alternative choices to welcome accommodation. Working with COSLA and local authority partners, the Scottish Government will support improvements to this process, alongside pursuing opportunities to make more homes available for matching.

Reducing reliance on welcome accommodation requires displaced people being able to make their own choices about where and how they want to live. This includes ensuring they have the information they need to understand the benefits of hosted accommodation, as well as having clearly defined parameters to welcome accommodation. It is also important to ensure that all displaced people from Ukraine are supported to understand and access their rights and entitlements to social housing and private tenancies.

The Scottish Government will therefore continue to work with our partners to:

  • develop and co-produce changes to the welcome accommodation estate with individual or regional local council areas to reflect local needs and resources
  • redefine the welcome accommodation offer, including consideration of re-entry to welcome accommodation
  • mitigate the risk of homelessness for people leaving welcome accommodation or hosting arrangements (together with COSLA/local authorities)
  • progress opportunities to improve consistency of support offered to displaced people from Ukraine arriving through different visa routes, and other groups in need of long-term housing
  • ensure sensitive handling and support for those with additional needs such as the size of the family unit as they leave welcome accommodation
  • review the support offered to hosts and those in hosting arrangements, including where there are sensitive, additional needs e.g. physical/trauma concerns, size of family unit.

Strategic Priority 3: Boost support for long-term, settled housing that leaves a legacy for Scotland

The Scottish Government’s vision for housing, set out in the Housing to 2040: vision and principles,[32] is that all people in Scotland live in high quality, sustainable homes that they can afford and that meet their needs. Having a home to call your own is an important foundation so that people can progress towards their own goals in education and employment and integrate in local communities while accessing the services that they need. Housing is also one of the key integration themes set out in the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy.

Context – Housing to 2040

Housing to 2040 sets out a vision for housing in Scotland to 2040 and a route map to get there. It aims to deliver the Scottish Government’s ambition for everyone to have a safe, good quality and affordable home that meets their needs in a place they want to be, through:

  • continued investment in the supply of affordable homes so they are available for the people who need them
  • attracting private investment to help deliver more homes and ensure those homes are energy-efficient, use zero emissions heating, are adapted to our future climate and meet the needs of people who live in them
  • a place-based approach so that homes and places work together seamlessly and people can live in communities that meet their needs and support their health and wellbeing
  • supporting regeneration through development of town centre living principles and repurposing of existing buildings
  • a whole system approach to housing to deliver affordable and good quality homes for everyone.

Accommodation and housing were a central focus of the Scottish super sponsor scheme review. The £50 million Ukraine Longer-Term Resettlement Fund (ULTRF) was introduced, aimed at local authorities and registered social landlords (RSLs) to bring empty properties back into use that would otherwise not have been available for let.

Since its introduction, the scope of the ULTRF has expanded to allow a wider range of projects to be considered for funding. For example, off-the-shelf purchasing, new build, site purchase and reprovisioning of properties not currently in use as social housing, where these are additional to the existing Affordable Housing Supply Programme operating in the area, and can deliver homes in the timescale required.

The ULTRF is designed to maximise the number of social rented homes available for matching to Ukrainian displaced people. It delivers strong value for money when compared against welcome accommodation costs, providing legacy housing benefits, as well as offering displaced people a settled home.

Through the ULTRF, as of 20 July 2023, 14 projects have been approved bringing almost 1,200 social rented homes into use. As of August 2023, 671 of these homes have been completed, of which almost 472 are currently tenanted, providing 948 displaced people from Ukraine with settled accommodation. Further tenancies are currently under offer and further six applications to the Fund are also in the pipeline. These proposals are undergoing due diligence and are at an advanced stage of appraisal. Notes of interest from councils and housing associations continue to be received.

ULTRF Case Study: Aberdeen City Council

Following receipt of Aberdeen City Council’s ULTRF application, which underwent due diligence, the Scottish Government has allocated £6.15 million to Aberdeen City Council, which will bring up to 500 homes back into use across the city. This will provide housing to approximately 900 displaced people from Ukraine in need of emergency housing for up to three years, in line with current visa timescales. The 500 properties include 231 one-bed apartments, 218 two-bed apartments, 41 three-bed apartments and three four-bed apartments.

Work has been completed on 373 of these properties with 217 homes allocated to displaced people from Ukraine, rehousing a total of 434 people.

Houses have been let to displaced people from Ukraine on the basis of Scottish Secure Tenancies. When these homes are no longer required for use by displaced people from Ukraine, they will be retained as part of Aberdeen City Council’s social housing stock for reletting to other people in need.

Access to settled housing has been highlighted as one of the most difficult challenges facing displaced people from Ukraine[33] - as it is for many thousands of people across Scotland. For example, an estimated 130,000 (5%) of households were on a housing list in 2019,[34] with a total of 28,994 open homelessness applications as of 30 September 2022.[35] There is ongoing work to address the wider demands on housing across different groups with housing needs, including displaced people from Ukraine.

Additionally, as part of ongoing work to deliver Housing to 2040, a short-life Housing Review Group has been established to help maximise opportunities to increase or re-balance the housing supply. The Scottish Government, Solace, COSLA and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) are working together through this group to consider immediate actions to address housing pressures in Scotland. The Housing Review Group will report to the Housing 2040 Strategic Board.

In the next phase, the Scottish Government will work with our partners to:

  • maximise the Ukraine Longer-Term Resettlement Fund to refurbish and bring housing back into use
  • explore the feasibility of longer-term modular housing
  • recognise the need for nuanced and place-based approaches to settlement
  • support access to the private rental sector.

Strategic Priority 4: Pursue clarity on routes to settlement, family reunification and repatriation

Scotland has a long history of welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum. In setting up the Ukraine visa routes – Ukraine Sponsorship ‘Homes for Ukraine’, Family Visa and Extension schemes – the UK Government offered displaced people a three-year visa allowing them to live, work and access public funds in the UK. However, there is a need to promote durable solutions for displaced people through routes to settlement and voluntary repatriation.

Establishing the Scottish super sponsor scheme helped provide a safe route for displaced people from Ukraine to come to Scotland. In July 2022, the Scottish Government took the difficult decision to pause the Scottish super sponsor scheme to new applications. In doing so, a commitment was made to review this decision regularly and a set of seven criteria against which plans to reopen the scheme to new applications could be objectively considered was developed. This criteria included cognisance of the situation in Ukraine, as well as pressures on local authorities and services, welcome accommodation availability and the safety of those who had already arrived in, or would shortly travel to, Scotland.

The most recent review of the pause against the seven criteria took place in June 2023. At that time, the review indicated that the majority of the seven criteria for the safe and deliverable re-opening of the scheme had not been met. As a result, with endorsement by the Warm Scots Welcome Programme Board, Scottish Ministers took the decision to maintain the pause for a further six months.

The Scottish Government will continue to review the pause to new applications to the Scottish super sponsor scheme on a six-monthly basis and consider whether the scheme still works in the way it was intended. In doing so, the Scottish Government will take into consideration the views of its partners and governance groups.

Although the Scottish super sponsor scheme remains paused to new applications, providing support and sanctuary for displaced people from Ukraine will continue to be a priority for the Scottish Government. There are an increasing number of instances where families have been separated as a result of visa requirements for entry to the UK and changes in circumstances, for example, family members being discharged from military duty in Ukraine. A key issue people face under current visa routes is lack of adequate housing when trying to sponsor a family member. Scotland recognises the UNHCR recommendations to support family reunification[36] and obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights, and will consider opportunities to support family reunification where possible. In addition to new visas that may be issued through these routes, as of 25 July 2023, there are an additional 12,477 individuals with existing visas through the Scottish super sponsor scheme who could travel to the UK at any time.[37]

While the majority of arrivals of displaced people from Ukraine in the UK with a Scottish sponsor are sponsored by Scottish Government, people continue to arrive under different schemes, such as through individual sponsorship (as part of the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ sponsorship scheme), the Ukraine Family scheme and the Ukraine Extension scheme. Local authorities, services and third sector partners are providing support to people arriving through all schemes.

However, lack of certainty about the future immigration status of displaced people from Ukraine, arriving through any visa route, is having a negative impact on people’s ability to make decisions about their future. Currently, Ukrainian visas are valid for 36 months from the date of issue. The UK Government has not provided any clarity on what options will be available to displaced people after this.

This uncertainty is causing distress for displaced people from Ukraine, and limiting their ability to integrate into Scottish communities. It is also preventing local authorities and third sector partners from adequately planning their services as they do not know how long people will be able to stay in Scotland, or if there is a risk of displaced people being made destitute at the end of their visa period.

There are also additional resource implications for local authorities and third sector partners who will need to provide support to displaced people from Ukraine to understand their visa rights and entitlement. This includes the need for qualified advisors with knowledge of immigration law that are registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). Cases are also likely to be complex, for example with mixed status households. This will be exacerbated and demand for support services likely to increase if clarity is not established on longer-term immigration status in the near future. Local authorities and third sector partners are experienced in providing this advice and support, as they do for others who have arrived through displacement, including refugees and people seeking asylum. However, it should be noted that the increasingly complex policy landscape creates significant pressure on delivery partners across Scotland to provide key services and support to communities.

As these are immigration decisions, they are reserved to the UK Government. However, the Scottish Government is clear that displaced people should be able to remain and be supported in Scotland for as long as they need to. This includes a need to establish clear routes to settlement in Scotland for those who wish to stay here. Data published in July 2023 from the UK Humanitarian Response Insight Survey, shows that almost two-thirds (61%) of adult respondents to the survey currently residing in Scotland intend to live in the UK most of the time when they feel it is safe to return to Ukraine.[38]

As the war against Ukraine continues, urgent clarity is needed for Ukrainians on what their options may be so that they can make informed decisions about how they want to live.

The Scottish Government also recognises that some people may wish to return to Ukraine when it is safe for them to do so, and wants to support them in this. While the conflict has been devastating, the experience of displacement and life in Scotland will create strong bonds between communities at home and in Ukraine for years to come. There is a need for a clear route to voluntary repatriation for those who choose to return to Ukraine, many of whom will return with vital skills to help rebuild Ukraine.

As part of delivering on this priority, the Scottish Government, with support from its partners, will:

  • develop proposals outlining durable solutions that consider routes to settlement and voluntary repatriation for displaced people from Ukraine
  • seek urgent clarity from the UK Government on options and support available to displaced people after the three-year visa period ends
  • continue to review the decision to pause the Scottish super sponsor scheme to new applications
  • consider proposals to better support family reunification, particularly in cases of family members being discharged from military duty seeking to reunite in Scotland.

Strategic Priority 5: Continued partnership and collaboration, ensuring good governance and that the voice of displaced people from Ukraine is recognised

Scotland’s Ukraine response to date has been delivered through strong partnership and collaboration across the Scottish Government, COSLA, the Scottish Refugee Council, local authorities, the third sector, community groups, the NHS, schools, colleges, and universities. This has been aided by the generosity of the people of Scotland who have volunteered as hosts and provided other forms of support. Ukrainian diaspora groups and organisations, such as the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, have also been instrumental in ensuring that displaced people are welcomed and supported on arrival in Scotland.

Displaced people arriving in Scotland will interact with a number of different support services – from Scottish Government matching and local authority resettlement teams, to charities and community groups, as well as healthcare professions. Ensuring a strong collaborative and partnership approach is taken, offers better and more consistent support for people arriving in Scotland.

"When the resettlement process in January 2023 started, our family was offered accommodation in a two-bedroom flat in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire Council. Our family was given a maximum support – the Scottish Government’s Ukraine Resettlement team was helpful and attentive to our needs.

My experience living surrounded by a Ukrainian community was positive for my mental health since I could find friends and communicate.

North Lanarkshire Council supported us from our very first day. They also provided us with a space and materials for kids activities. We are extremely thankful for their support.

We are now resettled in Coatbridge, and are renting a two-bedroom flat. It is a comfortable and fully refurbished in a quiet, clean place. Public transport links, schools and shops are all close within a three-five minute walk. We are living within a Ukrainian community."

Displaced person from Ukraine

The lived experience of displaced people from Ukraine is central to the collaborative approach and the Scottish Refugee Council has worked with local communities to establish a Ukrainian Collective to represent displaced people from Ukraine living in Scotland. The Collective is represented on the Stakeholder Reference Group[39] co-chaired by the Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, the COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, and the Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council. This group gives a strong voice to those who have arrived from Ukraine through displacement and will continue to help inform the response and development of policy.

In the next phase, the Scottish Government will continue to work with its partners to strengthen this approach, including through:

  • developing, through the Warm Scots Welcome governance structures, a delivery plan with objectives to implement these priorities
  • supporting a place-based approach that recognises the benefit of national, regional and local approaches to integration
  • ensuring the lived experience of displaced people from Ukraine continues to inform and shape the response both through the Stakeholder Reference Group and ongoing research and engagement
  • exploring how the Warm Scots Welcome governance can be mainstreamed with existing governance structures including New Scots to promote a joined-up approach.



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