The UK Resettlement Scheme

Wirral Council has been welcoming families to the borough through the government resettlement programme since 2017. 

The authority has re-affirmed its commitment to this by pledging its support to the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), where we have pledged to resettle 12 individuals. We have also pledged to resettle 18 Afghan individuals through the UK Government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme and Afghan Citizens Relocation Schemes (ACRS).

The 18 Afghan individuals we resettle could be from either of the ARAP or ACRS programmes or a combination of both and the Home Office will determine which individuals we receive. 

We are currently working with central government and local partners to identify suitable homes to meet our pledges, with our approach to both programmes aligned with how we have operated since we started welcoming families to the borough through resettlement.

What is the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS)?

UKRS resettles the most vulnerable refugees, including those with urgent medical needs, survivors of torture or violence and women and children at risk. Funding is provided to local authorities to support the individual’s and their family’s resettlement and integration into their new lives. 

Read further information on GOV.UK

What is the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP)?

This scheme offers relocation to current and former locally employed staff in Afghanistan who have worked with the UK British Forces and Government in any capacity to provide appropriate support that properly reflects their work and the risks involved. Funding is provided to local authorities for three years to support these individuals and their families with their integration.  These individuals are not refugees.

Read further information on GOV.UK

What is the Afghan Citizens Relocation Scheme (ACRS)?

The UK Government has committed to welcoming up to 20,000 Afghan citizens at risk, who United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deem to need protection. This programme will run parallel with the ARAP programme and provide resettlement to Afghan citizens who have been identified for needing protection, but do not qualify under the ARAP programme. Funding is provided to local authorities to support these individuals and their families with their integration.

Read further information on GOV.UK

Wirral Council has two specific members of staff whose role it is to co-ordinate the resettlement process for those individuals and their families arriving in the borough. The officers who are part of the Housing Investment Team, link in and work with a wide range of key partners, service providers and voluntary and community sector organisations to facilitate this.

How you can help

If would like to find out more about how you can help, there are a number of ways you can do so:

Housing

If you are a private landlord with a property you would like to offer for rent, please email: strategyregeneration@wirral.gov.uk

Please be aware that rent levels for any properties you may be considering offering, would need to be in line with Local Housing Allowance Rates for Wirral

There may be some very limited exceptions to this as potential cases are considered by Wirral.

Families and individuals arriving in Wirral through resettlement schemes are provided with  an appropriate self-contained home on arrival, however if you have a spare room you would like to offer on a temporary basis for other individuals, such as those who have recently been granted refugee status or who have been refused asylum, please contact www.refugeesathome.org

Employment, training or work experience

If you are an employer or training provider and have employment or opportunities for work experience or volunteering for individuals, please email: merseyside.wirralea@dwp.gov.uk with the subject heading ‘Opportunities for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants in Wirral’.

Donations and volunteering

There have already been a number of generous offers of support and donations for individuals and their families which the voluntary and community sector are co-ordinating.

Donations are currently being co-ordinated by www.aheart4refugees.org

Information for Afghan individuals in the UK requesting help for family members in Afghanistan

The Home Office have confirmed the following process for individuals who have relocated through the ARAP scheme and are enquiring about bringing family members over from Afghanistan:

“Under the rules for the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, your family members can apply to resettle in the UK with you. ‘Family members’ means spouses, long-term partners who you lived with in Afghanistan, or dependent children under 18. They must have applied to come to the UK with you at the same time that you applied”.

If you have additional family members still in Afghanistan that you feel need to be resettled here with you because of threats being made to them as a result of your work with the British Government, you can ask your employing department (usually either the Ministry of Defence or the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) to exceptionally consider allowing them to join you here. You can do this by contacting the same email address you did when you made your own application, setting out the details of your additional family members and why they need to be resettled here.” 

If the family member in Afghanistan is a British citizen or worked for British Forces or Embassy then the family member in the UK should contact the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option “Consular services for British nationals”. They can also email: help@fco.gov.uk  

*Note that the embassy in Kabul has relocated and any assistance they can provide is limited.

British Nationals in Afghanistan in need of assistance should call +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option “Consular services for British nationals” or email: help@fco.gov.uk

Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine)

The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Under the scheme announced by the government, each sponsor housing a Ukrainian individual (s) will be offered £350 a month, tax free. They will not be expected to provide food and living expenses but can choose to offer this.

If you want to offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine, you can become a ‘sponsor’ as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Once you have registered your interest with the Home Office, Wirral Council will receive your details and then contact you to request initial further information about you, your family, your home and the Ukrainian nationals you wish to sponsor. This will be used to inform the next step of the checks that local councils have been asked to undertake.

Register your interest

Property inspection

Once you have provided Wirral Council with the information detailed above, a property inspection visit will be arranged to ensure your home meets the necessary standards required to participate in the scheme.

Read about the role of councils on GOV.UK

There are a number of sponsors who have registered to date with more submissions being received therefore officers are working flexible hours to be able to book and undertake appointments as soon as possible. 

Property inspections are currently being prioritised based on Ukrainian individuals estimated arrival dates or where visas have already been issued by the government, however, this approach will be continually reviewed as officers progress this work, so please do bear with us on this and keep checking this web page for updates.

DBS checks

All sponsors and anyone 16 years and above who will be residing in a property with Ukrainian nationals under the Homes for Refugees scheme, are required to undertake an enhanced DBS free of charge.  

Whilst we appreciate that some sponsors and people in their households already have DBS checks for employment and other purposes, the ability for the council to be able to accept these as part of the checks is only applicable where the person has signed up to the update element of the DBS service.  

Even then, if they do not have the correct current Enhanced DBS that is required for the requirements of who is coming into their home, a new DBS check is required. This will be determined as part of the information gathered on the Ukrainian Nationals who will be coming to stay in your home.  

To avoid any delays, we are asking sponsors to provide us with the appropriate documentation for verification to progress appropriate DBS checks if they are needed in those circumstances and also for those who do not currently have the appropriate DBS in place. 

All sponsors are being emailed by Wirral Council to re-emphasis the requirement for appropriate DBS checks to be undertaken.  Emails also detail the relevant types of documentation you will need to provide to officers when they visit you so that they can undertake verification checks of those documents. You will be required to show original documents for these DBS checks for council officers to verify these as part of the DBS submission process.  

United Kingdom Visas and Immigration have confirmed that the DBS, Housing Inspections and Safeguarding checks local councils are required to undertake, will not impede the visa applications made by Ukrainian nationals overseas. More information about this scheme can be found on GOV.UK 

Please note, officers are dealing with large numbers of applications for the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and therefore please continue to look at the council’s website for further updates as it may take some time for us to respond to general requests for information.

Any sponsor whose Ukrainian household has a confirmed visa and travel date should update the council as a matter of urgency so the necessary financial support can be put in place alongside support in accessing relevant services.  

Please send an email to HomesforUkrainians@wirral.gov.uk clearly stating your name, address and the Ukrainian household members travelling and the arrival date. An officer will then make contact with you to support you further.

Any further enquiries relating to work being undertaken by the council on accommodation and DBS checks can be emailed to HomesforUkrainians@wirral.gov.uk 

You should direct any queries relating to the visa application process direct to United Kingdom Visas and Immigration on 0808 164 8810.

Information for guests from Ukraine

Read further useful information for guests from Ukraine to the UK

Ukrainian nationals already residing in Wirral

Ukrainian nationals residing in Wirral on work, study or visiting visas will be able to switch their ‘leave to enter’, into different visa routes.

Those residing on seasonal worker visas will be eligible to have to their ‘leave to enter’ extended.

Read the full breakdown on immigration changes for Ukrainian nationals residing in the UK on GOV.UK

Ukrainian Family Scheme and repatriation of British and Ukrainian nationals to the UK

The Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK.

Further information about this scheme and Visa guidance can be found on GOV.UK

Information for refugee Family Reunion Cases

For general Refugee Family Reunion Cases please contact the British Red Cross office in Liverpool: 0151 702 5067 ramp@redcross.org.uk who can provide more information and advice to refugees local to these areas. 

Enquiries relating to extended family members such as adult parents and siblings should be signposted to other legal providers

Asylum Seekers

The Home Office currently have a contract in place with a number of private organisations whose role it is to meet the accommodation and essential living needs of eligible asylum seekers and to provide a range of services to those individuals. 

For the Wirral area which is part of the North West of England, the contract the Home Office have in place is with SERCO and they also cover the Midlands and East of England.  This is not a role that Wirral Council undertakes.