Ukraine – WEFO communication to beneficiaries

Apr 28, 2022

This communication is intended to provide WEFO beneficiaries with an update on the EU funding that could be available to support Ukrainians arriving in Wales.

What flexibilities has the European Commission put in place to support those fleeing Ukraine?

On 8 March 2022 the European Commission adopted proposals for Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) allowing Member States and regions to provide emergency support to those fleeing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read the proposals for Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe

Much of this support and additional funding is applicable only to Member States of the European Union, however there is also increased flexibility to use resources from the 2014-20 Structural Fund Programmes to provide support, and which has been extended to the UK.

What EU Structural Funds support could be available to support Ukrainians arriving in Wales?

Those arriving in Wales may be eligible to access the wide range of ESF projects currently available across Wales. Projects provide a broad range of support helping vulnerable individuals overcome personal barriers to improve their employment prospects, including:

  • Support to help unemployed or economically inactive individuals into work, such as childcare and mentoring;
  • Support with skills, including training for employed and self-employed workers; and
  • Specific support for young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or are at risk of becoming NEET

For people arriving from Ukraine, projects may be able to provide extra support in relation to language and transferring international qualifications to the UK and beneficiaries are encouraged to discuss this with their Project Development Officer, in the first instance, if it is not already covered within their business plans.

ERDF support may also be provided by Business Wales via advice and support for individuals wishing to consider self-employment and the provision of assistance such as translators to aide their participation and learning. Social Business Wales, led by Cwmpas (Wales Co-operative Centre), along with the Social Business Growth Fund, led by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, are both a significant part of the huge Welsh voluntary sector response to the crisis. Both may provide advice and support for individuals wishing to consider setting up a social enterprise and provide assistance such as translators to aide their participation and learning.

Support provided by Business Wales

Support provided by Social Business Wales

Support provided by Social Business Growth Fund

The EU Structural Fund Programmes in Wales are already fully committed which brings limitations at this stage of programme delivery. However, WEFO is still carefully considering what options are available to maximise support and there are already a number of projects within the existing portfolio, which may be able to support those arriving in Wales and which already enables some of the support envisaged by CARE.

Will there be any eligibility issues for Ukrainians arriving in Wales who want to seek support from the EU Structural Fund programmes?

The UK Government has established the following schemes to assist Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family:

  • Ukraine Family Scheme – allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK
  • Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme – allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor who can provide accommodation
  • Ukraine Extension Scheme – from 3 May 2022, Ukrainian nationals who had permission to stay in the UK on or before 18 March 2022, together with their partners and children (dependants already in the UK) will be able to apply to the scheme, in order to extend their stay. The scheme is also open to those who previously had permission to stay in the UK and which has expired since 1 January 2022

Further details of all the above schemes, can be located via the following hyperlink: Immigration Rules Appendix Ukraine Scheme.

Where an individual qualifies for one of the above-named schemes and is successful in their application, it is expected that permission will be granted to the individual to come to, or stay in the UK, or extend their stay in the UK and will be subject to the following conditions (i) the ability to access to public funds, (ii) permission to work and (iii) permission to study. (Please note: in terms of permission to work and permission to study – a successful individual wishing to work or study as a researcher in a specified subject/ area, will need to obtain a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate. Further details can be located via:  Immigration Rules Appendix ATAS:  Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)). These permissions meet the basic eligibility rule to participate in the Wales ESF programmes and for any business support available from the Wales ERDF programmes.

The Immigration Rules Appendix Ukraine Scheme took effect on 30 March 2022. Until this date the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme were run as a concession with individuals/ applicants considered for a grant of leave outside of the rules. This means that, during this time, there may be a number of documents that will be acceptable as evidence for meeting the basic eligibility rule/ requirements to enable participation in the Wales ESF and Wales ERDF programmes.

WEFO will shortly be updating its ESF 2014-20 Guidance on assessing participant eligibility to provide more detail on the eligibility of individuals who have applied to the above schemes and who have been successful, along with more detail on specific requirements for those that wish to study certain subjects whilst in the UK. WEFO will revisit its guidance to provide any further necessary updates, inclusive of updated hyperlinks. In the meantime we invite beneficiaries to contact their WEFO Project Development Officers with any project specific queries.