More than 150,000 people have registered their interest in the UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme ahead of its launch today (Friday, March 18), but concerns have been raised about how it will work in practice.

The programme aims to match refugees with individuals, charities and other organisations who can provide accommodation for at least six months, enabling Ukrainians without family ties in Britain to enter the country.

More than 150,000 people in Britain had registered their interest by Thursday (March 17), and refugees who have found a sponsor can apply from Friday.

However, concerns have been aired about red tape, safeguarding and resourcing, with one major charity warning the Government is “unleashing chaos” with the scheme and that refugees could die before they are matched with a sponsor and can safely reach the UK.

Labour said the programme’s “excessive bureaucracy” and “DIY nature” are the greatest barriers to its success, and urged the Government to “cut unnecessary paperwork and play an active role in matching sponsors to refugees”.

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, claimed the scheme is a “smokescreen” and distraction from what really needs to happen, which she says is the removal of the visa requirement for Ukrainians to come to the UK, as other European countries have done.

She accused the Government of putting charitable organisations in an “invidious” position and foisting the scheme on them without prior consultation, adding that she expects just a “trickle” of refugees to arrive through the scheme because they will have to find people to become sponsors while abroad before they can apply, and then make their own way to the UK.

Ms Qureshi told the PA news agency: “Are some of the people going to be alive by the time the process has been gone through?

“They should be letting people in now, but the Government is doing to refugees what they’ve done to the Syrians and to Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, and what they’re doing is to reduce to an absolute minimum the number of refugees making their way to the UK in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War Two.”