According to the report, ordinary citizens, businesses and charities will be able to register to offer accommodation and employment to those fleeing war in Ukraine. The move comes after Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced that the UK is to ease its rigid entry requirements for Ukrainian refugees, enabling those with passports to apply for entry online and to have to give biometric details only after they arrive in the UK.
On Thursday, Patel told the Commons that from Tuesday, such appointments would no longer be needed for Ukrainian nationals with passports. They could apply remotely and would be told when they could travel.
The Home Secretary said: “In short, Ukrainians with passports will be able to get permission to come here fully online from wherever they are, and will be able to give their biometrics once in Britain.
“This will mean that visa application centres across Europe can focus their efforts on helping Ukrainians without passports.”
The Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, welcomed the change, but castigated Ms Patel for the system thus far, calling the treatment “a total, total disgrace, bringing shame on to our country”.
She added: “I have to say to the Home Secretary: why does it always take being hauled into the House of Commons to make basic changes to help vulnerable people who are fleeing from Ukraine?”
Government sources confirmed to the Guardian that as part of the widening of the sponsorship scheme, individuals, charities, businesses and community groups will be able to register to offer accommodation and employment via a hotline and webpage.
Those offering a place to stay will be vetted and have to agree to house a refugee for a minimum period.
A senior source in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told the Guardian it was still considering the length of time for which people from Ukraine will be able to reside in the UK under the scheme.
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Ukraine has begun evacuating civilians from the town of Irpin, near the capital Kyiv, and the northern city of Sumy after Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed to set up humanitarian corridors.
But on Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said Russian forces were shelling an evacuation route out of the besieged southern city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian cities have continued to suffer heavy bombardment from Russian forces, causing several civilian evacuation plans to collapse.