Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the UK Government has amended its Immigration Rules to provide additional rights to public funds, which include access to housing and homelessness assistance, for people coming to the UK who are fleeing the conflict. Those amendments also apply to people currently in the UK who are not eligible or whose leave will expire before the conflict is over. To align housing law in Wales with the Immigration Rules, so that this group of people can be made eligible to apply for social housing and homelessness assistance, I intend to lay the draft Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (“the draft 2022 Regulations”). Those eligible, including British nationals and others not subject to immigration control, will be exempt from the habitual residence test.
As people are already arriving in the Wales from Ukraine these changes must be made as soon as possible. Consequently, the draft 2022 Regulations will be laid on 8 April for consideration by the Senedd on 26 April. I appreciate that this accelerated process for considering the draft 2022 Regulations is unusual, but due to the urgency of the situation and potential uncertainty in the treatment of people seeking sanctuary in Wales, I have taken this step.
I have written to the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee to seek their assistance for urgent consideration of the Regulations, in order that Members of the Senedd have sight of the Committee’s report before the debate on 26 April 2022.