School of Business and Economics


7 Apr 2022

Important moment for Government to improve immigration policies

As thousands of displaced Ukrainian families arrive in Britain, the Government has an opportunity to improve the way it handles UK borders and refugee resettlements, says Dr Michelle Richey.

More than four million men, women and children have fled their country since Russia invaded in February, with the majority settling in Poland.

According to the latest figures, the British Government has granted around 25,500 visas to those who have made the long journey from the war-torn Slavic state.

However, the Homes for Ukraine scheme – another program that allows UK residents to invite refugees to live in their homes for a minimum of six months – has received much criticism for granting just 2,700 passes from around 30,000 applications.

“It's been very frustrating for people,” said Dr Richey, of Loughborough’s School of Business and Economics.

“You open your home feeling the urgency of the situation… and you know how urgent it is.

"I can only imagine that people have gone through their lives to assess whether they can do it, and to respond quickly, and to be faced with all these bureaucratic delays is a headache, to say the least.”

She added: “… this kind of groundswell of empathy is a pretty important moment for the Government to get this right.”

Dr Richey’s comments were made on Besieged: A podcast about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the episode, Opening your home to a Ukrainian family, she explained how the refugee crisis could potentially be a watershed moment for Britain’s refugee and immigration policies.

With huge support from members of the public, many of whom were moved by the devastating news from Ukraine, the Government opened up its visa policy from just friends and family of UK citizens, to all Ukrainians.

Dr Richey said: "For the moment it seems like a hopeful opportunity.

"In the UK we can see, in light of that huge outpouring (of support), somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 people have expressed interest in hosting refugees in their homes.

"It’s that huge public outpouring of support that pushed the Government, who were initially only going to allow Ukrainians with family members in the UK (to allow all Ukrainian refugees).

“So, you can see that public sentiment can really soften some of these policies.

“And, as always, if our politicians see this as an election issue is when they prioritise it.

"But this is a hopeful moment.”

To listen to the episode, visit Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, TuneIn+Alexa and YouTube.

Besieged is produced by Dane Vincent and hosted by Peter Warzynski and invites experts from Loughborough University to discuss wide-ranging issues linked to the war in Ukraine.