Brits will be given £350 ($457) a month to house Ukrainians fleeing the war, according to a new government project being launched this week, with actor Benedict Cumberbatch also planning to play his part.
“Doctor Strange” star Cumberbatch told Sky News in a red carpet interview at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday that “everyone needs to do as much as they can” to support Ukrainians, as Russia continues its unprovoked attack on the country.
“I think already today the news has broke that there’s been a record number of people volunteering to take people into their homes, I hope to be part of that myself and also donating to charities who can help people in a very real way on the ground either in Poland or just over the border, if it’s safe to do so,” Cumberbatch said.
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said Friday that it estimated more than 2.5 million refugees had fled Ukraine for neighboring countries.
Britain’s housing minister Michael Gove shared details of the U.K. government’s “Homes for Ukraine” project in a BBC interview on Sunday. It will give Britons £350 a month to house Ukrainian refugees for a minimum of six months.
Gove said that the U.K. government would be launching an online portal on Monday for Britons to register their interest in the plan, with the process of matching refugees to U.K. homes starting on Friday. He said that polls had indicated that “hundreds of thousands” of Brits would potentially be willing to take in Ukrainian refugees.
Gove said he himself was exploring the possibility of taking in refugees.
As of Sunday afternoon, 4,000 people had been granted U.K. visas under the government’s Ukraine Family Scheme, according to the Home Office. Gove expected that the U.K. could receive “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian refugees.
He added that he wanted to explore the option of using the properties of sanctioned Russian oligarchs for “humanitarian and other purposes.”
Last week, the U.K. government added another seven Russian oligarchs onto its sanctions list, freezing their assets and imposing a travel ban.
The list includes billionaire Roman Abramovich, who is trying to sell England’s Chelsea soccer club. Abramovich’s portfolio of properties includes a Kensington mansion valued at £150 million and a Chelsea Waterfront penthouse bought for £22 million in 2018.
Another on the list is billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who has a multi-million pound property portfolio in the U.K., according to the government.
—CNBC’s Karen Gilchrist contributed to this report.