Politics

SNP ministers ‘considering’ offering free public transport to Ukrainian refugees in Scotland



Refugees arriving in Scotland could soon be given free public transport.

Neil Gray, the minister overseeing the arrival of Ukrainians , told MSPs today the government is “considering” free transport for those who arrive in the country.

Ukrainians seeking sanctuary in Scotland are currently provided free temporary hotel accommodation if they need it as well as a “welcome pack” with information about employment and welfare rights.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell and Scottish Labour ‘s Paul Sweeney pushed Gray on whether free travel could be extended beyond those coming as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Ruskell asked Gray : “I had a specific question about the introduction of free public transport for those seeking asylum as well as those with refugee status as well.

“I think it’s really important that it’s not restricted just to Ukrainian people but for people from across the world.

“So, a confirmation that you are considering that would be would be very useful about the eligibility of free travel.”

In response, the minister said: “Yes, it’s something that’s under consideration and pay tribute to colleagues around the table who have been working on this.”

While, John Primrose, deputy director of international relations at the Scottish Government, told the committee: “The free real travel that’s available to Ukrainians are looking to come to Scotland that connects to UK routes, and that we’re actively monitoring the availability of that free transport.

“There’s also obviously free transport from the hubs that’s being provided to the accommodation for the Ukrainians.

“We’re constantly monitoring the availability of transport options for those that are looking to come to Scotland.”

Earlier in the hearing Tory MSP Donald Cameron asked Gray how many Ukrainians had already arrived in Scotland, however the minister was unable to give a figure due to data issues.

He said: “The honest answer to that Mr Cameron is we don’t know yet, and that was part of the conversation that we needed to have with Lord Harrington.

“The data flows have not started as the way we have wanted them to start as yet.

“I don’t believe the UK Government is holding it back from us. I just believe that the speed at which the system has been created from First Minister’s conception on one Friday to launch the following Friday.

“Getting the system up and running has taken time, but we are pressing very hard to ensure that we get that data to us as quickly as possible.”

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