We have a duty as a nation to sponsor the Ukrainian refugees whom we promised to look after until it is time for them to go home

The United Kingdom established the Homes for Ukraine scheme in response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. We established three immigration routes to support Ukrainians wishing to come to or remain in the UK beyond their existing rights: the Ukraine sponsorship scheme, known as Homes for Ukraine, the Ukraine family scheme and the Ukraine extension scheme.

The first visas issued under the schemes will expire in spring 2025, so we need to address what will happen next to those Ukrainians living in the UK. They need security and certainty.

Bright and incredibly hard-working pupils from Ukraine have come to the UK and have done exceptionally well studying in a second language. They have continued their Ukrainian studies online, too. These pupils want to apply to universities here in the UK, but with their visas expiring from March 2025, they are unsure whether they will have the right to stay here for the duration of their course. At present, it seems those whose study extends beyond their three-year visa would need to apply for an international student visa, incurring the usual application fees and payments whilst losing access to student loans. They would simply be costed out of higher education.

Let me set out a case study of a Ukrainian family in the UK. Masha is sitting GCSEs this year. In the summer, she would like to stay on in the UK, living with her 24-year-old brother. Her mother wants her to return to Ukraine to support her husband, she believes she can get work there again as a nuclear engineer. She works in a takeaway restaurant here, in a position way below her qualifications.

Masha is an excellent student and has made good friends here. She really wants to apply to the sixth form or to sixth-form college; after that, she would like to go to university here, but she may have to drop out and leave. Masha needs certainty.

We must also minimise the risk for Ukrainians threatened with homelessness as the Homes for Ukraine scheme comes to an end. Sponsorship for the earliest Ukrainians housed under the scheme ends this March.

By August last year, 4,890 Ukrainian households had been assessed as homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in England alone, 8% of the total number of Ukrainian families helped under the scheme. It would be remiss of us not to take prudent measures to help stabilise the lives of Ukrainians in the UK

Various stakeholders in the UK need to plan for the immediate future while a conclusion to the war is not an imminent reality. Local authorities need to know whether they must fund additional support services for Ukrainian speakers in local healthcare and educational settings. Local authorities, charities and sponsors need to know whether they must provide emergency accommodation to Ukrainians who are threatened with homelessness, whether additional support will be extended to local authorities, beyond initial tariff funding, to fund ongoing support for them, whether charities must stack up to co-ordinate any responses that local authorities or present sponsors cannot handle alone. While we can look forward to the day when we can assist the reconstruction of Ukrainian society, we must not discount the decisions stakeholders in the UK must make today.

To quote my colleague, Duncan Baker MP. We owe a duty as a nation to the sponsors and refugees whom we have promised to look after until it is time for them to go home. These people have problems of their own to deal with, including the trauma of being separated from their families. They do not need to worry about whether the British Government will send them back home when it is not safe, and it is not safe.

I am a huge admirer of the Ukrainian people in the UK for all that they have endured to get here, and I recognise that there is a big debate about the best and most effective way of continuing to assist those who fled and settled here. They have had to leave their home in very uncertain times, and we must start to give them certainty about their time here in the UK. The Ukrainians are hugely grateful to the UK for the assistance provided so far. I remain confident that, working together, the Ukrainian schemes can be developed in a way that will benefit all stakeholders and give greater certainty.

Mrs Pauline Latham MP

Mrs Pauline Latham is the Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, and was elected in 2010.