To receive questions from Members under Rule 12 of the Constitution.
Councillor Sawrey-Cookson asked the following question under Rule 12 of the Council and Committee Rules of the Constitution:
What action will the Council be taking with regard to the appalling and worsening situation in Ukraine:
Is the Council intending to sponsor Ukrainian refugee families?
Could there be a point of contact for people who are willing to host refugees and for Ukrainians looking for a place to live?
The Leader gave the following response:
Thank you Councillor for your question, it gives us the opportunity to talk about what is going on with EDC and in Cumbria for Ukrainian Refugees
In answer to your first question, the Council is not currently able to sponsor Ukrainian refugee families. In answer to your second question, a point of contact already exists. So I think it will be helpful to outline how the national scheme works and how it is being delivered in our area to explain those answers.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme opened at the 18 March for Ukrainian nationals who were residents in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022 and their immediate family members. The scheme works by ‘sponsors’, either individuals or organisations who have spare properties or rooms, registering with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (which is called DLUHC for short) via their website.
Guests are the Ukrainian people who have also registered with DLUHC as refugees needing to be accommodated. Sponsors and guests then make contact with each other, usually through social media, mutually to agree arrangements. Guests from the Ukraine are required to make visa applications to the Government for approval prior to their arrival. Eden District Council does not own residential properties so we cannot fulfil the role of sponsor, but we are supporting how the scheme is being delivered locally.
The Refugee Resettlement Team in Cumbria County Council act as a lead for the County and coordinate the required response to the matches between sponsor and guests. The Resettlement Team are working with all the District Councils at Strategic, Tactical, and Locality levels apply an approach that has been well tested during the previous refugee crisis.
The roles of the Resettlement Team are:
· To act as the first point of contact with government
· carry out the required DBS and other document checks of sponsors
· carry out pre-arrival checks of the accommodation that sponsors have offered to confirm suitability
· engage with the sponsors so they understand their role and responsibilities
· check in with sponsors and guests shortly after they arrive and regularly thereafter
· carry out further checks on welfare needs, and determine the wider support networks available in the local community, coordinate any necessary referrals to services such as GPs, dentists, adult social care, safeguarding and mental health
· provide interim cash payment for guests, and signpost to DWP regarding working, benefits and pensions
· and to coordinate any education requirements.
The roles of the Distract Councils including Eden are:
· To monitor any Homelessness Service Requests arising from the programme
· administer “thank you” payments to sponsors, and checks to avoid fraud, through our Revenue and Benefits Team.
As of the 26 April, there were 186 sponsors registered in Cumbria, of which 38 where in Eden. 379 family groups with a total of 597 have been matched with sponsors in Eden.
I hope this explains how the system works and the role that we are playing in the process locally.