'It's embarrassing': Govt was 'not geared up' for Ukraine refugee crisis, minister says

5 April 2022, 19:41 | Updated: 5 April 2022, 20:36

'It's embarrassing to me that the system is taking too long.'

By Sophie Barnett

The Refugees Minister has admitted the Government was "not geared up" for the volume of Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK, telling LBC he is "embarrassed" that the system is taking so long.

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Lord Richard Harrington, who was recently appointed Refugees Minister, told LBC's Iain Dale that the Homes For Ukraine scheme has taken a "lot longer" than it should.

Asked why, he said: "Because it was a slow and bureaucratic process, with sending information to different places, waiting for an answer, sending it, waiting for an answer.

"The Home Office and the British Government generally, was not geared up to this kind of volume."

He later said it is "embarrassing" that the system is taking too long, but said the system has been finessed since the early stages of the war.

Minister admits he doesn't know why people haven't arrived in UK

Lord Harrington later admitted he did not know what the hold-ups were when a caller, Victoria, explained the difficulties she was experiencing with trying to house Ukrainian refugees.

"I just don't know where they are," said Victoria.

"Is there a problem?

"Should we be doing something?

"Nobody's been in contact.... you're going round and round in circles... and it's really, really desperate."

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In response, Lord Harrington said: "What Victoria says is just unacceptable and I take responsibility for it.

"I don't know what to say... I honestly don't know.

"The system should work better than this, it obviously has worked better than this otherwise we wouldn't have issued more than 8,000 visas, but I can't understand it, why there's been this time lag."