An informant working on the UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme revealed that he and his colleagues “do not know what we are doing” and claim that the scheme was “designed to fail” to limit the number of people entering the UK.
Amid criticism of the number of Ukrainians allowed to come to the UK, the insider revealed that the confusion, poor morale and lack of instructions meant that employees contracted for the system often resorted to “inventing” their responses to cases.
The staff working on the program’s helpline – established after widespread outrage over the UK government’s initial response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis – revealed that they had received only three hours of training without follow-up, and made any complaint or suggestion for improvement. the system met with silence.
“Actually, we don’t know what we’re doing,” said a source who works for a private company responsible for processing Ukrainian refugee documentation. “The system seems to be designed to make people fail. They want to keep the numbers down. Everything they do feels like they should. I even had a lawyer on the phone who said he didn’t understand the system. “
The informant questioned official government figures on Ukrainian refugees, arguing that statistics gave the impression that ministers were more generous than they actually were.
The source, on condition of anonymity, said he had dealt with many cases where a visa to the UK was issued to an entire Ukrainian family except for one child, which in fact stopped the family’s journey to the UK.
“It allows the government to say we have issued a lot of visas.” Nevertheless, because they detained one, it is a guarantee that the Ukrainians will not go, “said the source.
The informant said that he encountered four or five cases each day where a single child in the family was not allowed to travel, which he said was “too much of a coincidence” to be encouraged.
A government source said family applications were “normally processed together”, but the cases varied in complexity and that safeguards were in place to protect children from trafficking.
Recent government figures show that 40,000 British visas have been issued under the Homes for Ukraine program since its launch five weeks ago – and yet only 6,600 Ukrainians have actually arrived.
One sponsor, who offered a place in her home for a mother and daughter from Borodyanka – a small town north of Kiev that was destroyed during the Russian invasion – told the Observer that the baby had not received a visa for a month.
Catherine Lisenkova, who is also a volunteer helping Ukrainians come to the UK, said she applied for a visa for the couple on March 21, and although her mother received one “soon”, her daughter did not and both were stranded in Poland. .
Hours after the Observer brought the case to the government last Friday, the daughter received permission to travel to the United Kingdom. On Saturday, British sponsors described that they were “at the end” after the Ukrainian mother, who was supposed to stay in their house, received a visa, but her children, including her four-year-old daughter, remained waiting.
Protesters this month in Trafalgar Square. The government has been criticized for the number of Ukrainians they have allowed into the United Kingdom. Vuk Valcic / Shutterstock pictures
Lisenkova said she knew about 700 Homes for Ukraine applications that still had not received a response, many of which date back to the time the program was launched.
The notifier is employed by a multinational company in Paris called Teleperformance, which also owns TLScontact for consular services. He was criticized for promoting paid services to Ukrainians applying for visas.
A source who has been working on the scheme’s hotline for a month said: and that’s why they don’t want to come here anymore. That’s hard when you hear that. “
He claimed that calls from potential sponsors and applicants to the Homes for Ukraine program were rarely recorded.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve received one call out of hundreds, maybe thousands, that said ‘recording’ before the person called,” the source said. “I used to work on the Covid 119 lines, where everything was recorded.
“The Covid line was much more structured: there was a very strong set of rules with a lot of information for us. We have no information on the Ukrainian line. ”
However, he said that Teleperformance was not entirely to blame for the problems associated with the Ukrainian scheme, because the company basically worked according to the specifications of the British government.
“Television is a client. They just do whatever they want to do. ”
But he said any complaints against the company’s management seemed to be ignored: “We are not getting a zero response and if there is an attempt to improve or improve it, no one will tell us about it. There is no communication. “
The resulting sentiment among employees, the source said, was frustrating.
“Colleagues I’ve talked to feel the same way.” We all feel quite irritated, “he added.
The system’s helpline aims to guide applicants through the sponsor process and help them enter the data needed for a successful outcome. However, the government has the final say on who can get a visa and is allowed to enter the United Kingdom.
A government spokesman said a total of 71,800 visas had been issued in combination with the Ukrainian family program, with 21,600 Ukrainians arriving in the UK.
They added: “We process thousands of visas every day – this shows that the changes we have made to make the service more efficient are working and we will continue to build on this success to speed up the process even more.”