Minister 'glad' Ukrainian refugee website crashed after over 88,000 Brits sign up

15 March 2022, 00:10 | Updated: 15 March 2022, 08:55

Minister says he is 'glad' Ukrainian refugee website crashed

By Megan Hinton

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has told LBC that he is "glad" the website for Ukrainian refugees crashed, following high demand during its launch on Monday .

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Speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Cleverly said the struggling system reflected the "generosity" of the British public.

It comes after 88,000 households had offered to take in Ukrainian refugees.

Mr Cleverly said: "I'm glad we moved quickly on this and we moved quickly to ensure we’re able to help the Ukrainian refugees.

"The fact that tens of thousands of people - I think over 40,000 people - have signed up for this… as the international representative of this country on the world stage, I could not be more proud of the display of generosity and spirit that the British people have shown through this.

"So, you know what? I'm glad the website crashed - it's a reflection of that generosity of the British people."

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People took to social media in the minutes after the scheme was launched on Monday to complain that the website link had crashed.

But a Government spokesperson confirmed that the Homes For Ukraine website "temporarily stalled" after it went live due to the "enormous generosity of the British public" in offering to take in those fleeing the conflict with Russia.

During a speech in the house of commons yesterday, Michael Gove said "unlimited numbers" of refugees would be allowed to live in the UK for three years under the scheme.

Confirming the Government will pay £350 a month to those who offer to take in fleeing Ukrainians for a minimum of six months.

The refugees will have full and unrestricted access to benefits, health care, employment and other support.

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Previously only Ukrainians with family members already living in the UK could obtain a visa but the new scheme allows UK residents to sponsor refugees without families ties.

People can who want offer a rent-free space in their home or a separate residence, for at least six months, can register their interest online.

Communities Secretary Michael Gove made a statement on the Government's response to help those feeling the conflict in Ukraine.

Mr Gove said: "This Government, this House, indeed everyone in the United Kingdom, continues to be in awe of the bravery of the people of Ukraine.

"The victims of savage, indiscriminate, unprovoked aggression, their courage under fire and their determination to resist inspires our total admiration. The United Kingdom stands with Ukrainian people."

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He added: "But more can and must be done. To that end, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already expanded the family route.

"She has also confirmed that, from tomorrow, Ukrainians with passports will be able to apply for UK visas entirely online without having to visit visa application centres.

"As a result, the number of Ukrainians now arriving in this country is rapidly increasing and numbers will grow even faster from tomorrow."

Mr Gove said the "unfailingly compassionate British public wants to help further", adding: "Today we are answering that call with the announcement of a new sponsorship scheme, Homes For Ukraine."

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Giving more details on the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Michael Gove said: "Sponsors in the UK can be of any nationality with any immigration status, provided they have at least six months leave to remain within the UK.

"Sponsors will have to provide accommodation for a minimum of six months. In recognition of their generosity, the Government will provide a monthly payment of £350 to sponsors for each family whom they look after."

He added: "These payments will be tax-free, they will not affect benefit entitlement nor council tax status.

"Ukrainians arriving in the United Kingdom will also have access to the full range of public services, doctors, schools, and full local authority support."

Mr Gove announced that, from today, anyone who wishes to record their interest in sponsorship can do so on

He went on: "Of course, we want to minimise bureaucracy and make the process as straightforward as possible, while also doing everything we can to ensure the safety of all involved.

"Sponsors will therefore be required to undergo necessary vetting checks. We're also streamlining processes to security-assess the status of all Ukrainians, who will be arriving in the United Kingdom.

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The Communities Secretary's comments came as Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi told the Commons that "as with previous refugee crisis, the Government's response to the Ukraine crisis has, quite frankly, been pathetic".

The MP for Slough said: "Revealing the true extent of the callousness within this Government's hostile environment policy. The only reason, by the way, that we are having such a statement, which in itself is wholly inadequate, is because the Government has been dragged kicking and screaming by the opposition, the media and the good British people, who have said that this debacle simply doesn't represent us."

Mr Gove noted "it's always the case that more needs to be done at every point when we are dealing with a humanitarian tragedy", adding: "We all recognise that. But I would respectfully say to him two things: this country has taken in people from Syria, from Afghanistan, we are taking people from Ukraine. It is an uncapped scheme."

As he started banging on the despatch box, the Communities Secretary went on: "We are going to disagree politically and all the rest of it, but I have just had it up to here with people trying to suggest that this country is not generous.

"All the stuff about hostile environments, the hostile environment was invented under a Labour home secretary. So can we just chuck it when it comes to the partisan nonsense and get on with delivering?"

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The UK has issued 4,000 visas under the Ukraine Family Scheme ahead of launching a further programme for Britons to house refugees, as of 3pm on 13 March the Home Office said.

Figures show 17,100 applications have been submitted, with 10,600 appointments made at a visa application centre.

A total of 5,600 applications have been confirmed for processing, with 1,800 of those yet to be processed.

The UK has announced it is providing cancer treatment for 21 seriously ill Ukrainian children as Britons were urged to open their homes to people fleeing the war.

The children and their immediate family members arrived from Poland on Sunday evening and will be assessed before being sent to NHS hospitals to continue their care.

Announcing their arrival, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I am proud that the UK is offering lifesaving medical care to these Ukrainian children, who have been forced out of their home country by the Russian invasion while undergoing medical treatment."