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Ukraine: 44,000 Brits rush to help refugees as new website crashes after going live

Thousands of Bris offered to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees yesterday after Michael Gove announced the UK would open an online registration website over the weekend. The website crashed within moments of its launch on Monday as more than 44,000 people signed up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Those fleeing conflict in Ukraine will be able to move in with British families later this week.

The move has been introduced regardless of whether refugees have ties to the UK.

Households hosting Ukrainians will also receive a tax-free £350 a month payment.

The vetting process has been described as only “light touch” in an attempt to maximise the number of refugees who can arrive in the UK.

Rather than being subject to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, applicant households will be checked against the Police National Computer.

It is thought this will protect refugees from exploitative individuals taking advantage of the scheme.

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However, MPs have warned the lack of a full DBS check on individuals could raise safeguarding concerns.

Mr Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, told the Commons about the scheme on Monday after the UK faced criticism for not doing more to support Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.

Poland, which borders Ukraine, is said to have taken in more than 1.5million refugees.

However, recent data compiled by the Home Office on March 13, indicates just 4,000 visas have been issued for the Ukraine Family Scheme have been issued in the UK.

Even Ireland had taken in more than Britain after on Sunday Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin revealed 5,500 had arrived on the Emerald Isle.

But Mr Gove, who was first elected as the MP for Surrey Heath in 2005, said: “I have just had it up to here with people trying to suggest that this country is not generous.”

He added: “The British people have already opened their hearts in so many ways.

“And I’m hopeful that many will also be ready to open their homes and to help those fleeing persecution to find healing, prosperity and hope for a brighter future.”

UK households who sign up for the new scheme are expected to stick to the six-month commitment.

But it remains unclear what will happen thereafter, given refugees who come under the scheme will be allowed to stay for up to three years.

Ministers have suggested both national Government and local authorities would step in.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have promised to house a Ukrainian refugee.

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According to the Times, Mr Gove’s hopes of housing a refugee have been complicated because he lives in Carlton Gardens since separating from his wife Sarah Vine last year.

The residence is usually home to the Foreign Secretary but Liz Truss reportedly offered the apartment to her Cabinet colleague after Mr Gove moved out of the family home.

The broadsheet reports aides have said the Housing Secretary is more likely to use his constituency home in Surrey Heath to accommodate refugees.

Downing Street appeared to rule out the Prime Minister taking part in the scheme.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “There are specific challenges around security on housing people in Number 10.”

He added: “Obviously it will come down to individual circumstances.

“This is a significant commitment.”



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