CHARITIES working with Ukrainians fleeing the war are warning that refugees headed for Scotland are being let down by "failed placements and a backlog of cases."

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, said more needed to be done by the government and councils to help those fleeing Vladimir Putin's invasion.

The Edinburgh Western MSP has set out a new plan to try and improve the refugee scheme.

It comes after a meeting with former Foreign and Commonwealth official Duncan Spinner, who is working to get Ukrainians to Scotland safely.

Last month, the Scottish Government announced its super-sponsor scheme, which makes it easier for Ukrainian nationals to flee to Scotland, would be suspended due to a lack of suitable housing.

Refugees are currently being housed on a cruise ship docked in Leith.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said the suspension is causing significant problems for those awaiting housing.

He said: “When the war in Ukraine started, there was an outpouring of support from the people of Scotland.

“Unfortunately the collapse of the Scottish Government’s super-sponsor scheme and the slow progress in vetting hosts is causing big problems.

“It is not for want of goodwill but local authorities are just not assessing homes fast enough.

“Charities are warning of failed placements and a backlog of cases which means that people cannot get out of Ukraine.

“From speaking with Duncan, I know that he is astonished that so little work was done to match the ambitious promises made by the First Minister with action.

“The super-sponsor scheme said ‘come here now’, but there was a big gap between demand and the number of homes vetted and available.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton, who signed up to host a Ukrainian family with his wife, said there were months between registering and hearing from the council about the scheme.

He said the delays have left families with “tragic circumstances”.

The MSP also called for the extension of the free bus pass to all Ukrainian refugees for at least their first year.

He said the skills of refugees should be identified earlier to help them seek employment as quickly as possible.

Comprehensive language support, particularly around healthcare, is also suggested in his new plan.

“The Government should work with the Ukrainians coming into Scotland to make the most of their skills,” he added.

“Many of them are trained in social work, social care and medicine. They can help their fellow refugees in accessing services and in-time put their skills to work in Scotland.

“The generosity of the Scottish people towards those in need has been incredible,” Mr Cole-Hamilton said.

“Now our Government needs to do their part.”

Minister with Special Responsibilities for Refugees from Ukraine Neil Gray said the government was taking "significant action."

He said: “As a nation, Scotland has risen in solidarity with Ukrainians in their hour of need.

“I am proud that thanks in large part to our super sponsor scheme, we are now providing safe accommodation to the most Ukrainians per head of population in the UK.

“We have chosen to pause our scheme so that we can continue to provide a high level of support and care to everyone who has already been granted a visa.

“Furthermore, we continue to take significant action to increase our temporary accommodation capacity as well as boosting our matching system to maximise the number of people who can be placed with volunteer hosts who have completed the necessary safeguarding checks.”