Frustrations shared over limits to support for Ukrainians fleeing war

Councillors and officials said that they were frustrated that government money for Ukrainian refugees was limited to those registered through the Homes for Ukraine scheme only.

So far, Brighton and Hove has welcomed 146 Ukrainians, with more than 200 hosts now registered.

The details emerged as one of Brighton and Hove City Council’s most senior officials, Rachel Sharpe, gave leading councillors an update yesterday (Thursday 12 May).

She told members of the Policy and Resources Committee that a significant proportion of Ukrainians arriving in Brighton and Hove had family visas so did not receive financial support from the government.

People arriving through the Homes for Ukraine scheme were eligible for a one-off £200 subsistence payment while their hosts would receive a £350 monthly “thank you” once checks were completed.

Under the scheme, the council was entitled to £10,300 a head to provide support services as well as one-off payments for education, ranging from £6,580 for primary school children to £8,755 for pupils at secondaries.

Anusree Biswas Sasidharan, a co-opted member of the committee, was frustrated that those arriving through alternative routes received minimal support – and refugees from other war zones did not receive the same level of support.

She said: “Can we consider how other ethnic minorities can be included? I know there’s money behind this. Sadly, there isn’t money available for other groups which is really painful as a person of colour myself.

“I do think it’s wonderful. It doesn’t take away from the importance of this work. If there are any opportunities, please be mindful that there are others who could benefit.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, the Green leader of the council, echoed Dr Biswas Sasidharan’s point, saying: “I believe there’s an office set up in Portcullis House to facilitate MPs’ discussions about their constituents who happen to be Ukrainian nationals.

“Whatever happened to similar discussions about Yemeni and Syrian nationals?”

Ms Sharpe said that there was inequality when spending government money to support Ukrainians, adding: “We can’t even spend the funding at the moment on other Ukrainian refugees, never mind refugees or other people in the community who might benefit.”

Councillors praised officials for their swift action in putting support in place – and Conservative councillor Alistair McNair, whose wife is Ukrainian, praised All Saints Church, Hove, for setting up a community space for newly arrived Ukrainians.

He said: “There is perhaps a need for permanent space. But lots of community groups need a space. All Saints have been fantastic.”

The council has mobilised and re-focused a community hub that was established during the covid pandemic to provide both a point of contact for arrivals and their hosts.

It can be contacted by email at ukrainian.support@brighton-hove.gov.uk and the community hub telephone number is 01273 293117 option 2.

  1. Louise H Reply

    Yemeni and Syrian nationals escaping from France are entitled to assistance in France.

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