Quarter of Britons housing Ukrainian refugees want to end arrangement after six months

Activists demonstrate outside Home Office in March - Anadolu Agency
Activists demonstrate outside Home Office in March – Anadolu Agency

A quarter of Britons who took Ukrainians into their homes want to end the arrangement after six months, raising the prospect of thousands of refugees being made homeless.

A survey of 17,000 Britons who participated in the Homes for Ukraine by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found 26 per cent did not want to continue the arrangement beyond six months.

A quarter of those blamed cost of living concerns for prompting them to rethink their commitment to the scheme, which was launched in March and has seen about 75,000 refugees arrive in the UK.

Sponsors agreed to provide accommodation in their own home for a minimum of six months, receiving £350 a month from the Government for doing so.

The ONS survey found six out of 10 sponsors were happy to accommodate their Ukrainian guests for more than the agreed minimum with almost a quarter saying they would be prepared to continue the arrangement for more than a year.

However, almost all sponsors said they had provided support and help to their guests that went beyond the official arrangement.

Some still waiting for guests to move in

Eight out of 10 said they had given them food, two-thirds had helped them find work and 45 per cent had provided financial support.

Four in 10 said they might be prepared to host for longer if there was more financial help.

The ONS research also found that 18 per cent of those signed up for the scheme were still waiting for guests to move in.

The scheme was set up by the Government to help those fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and worked alongside the Ukraine Family Scheme – which allowed refugees to join relatives already living in the UK.

The ONS surveyed all UK adults registered with the scheme as of July 7, in collaboration with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), with 17,702 people responding.

Recent government figures show 145 placements have ended with Ukrainian refugees finding themselves homeless, 90 because the relationship broke down and 55 where the accommodation was deemed unsuitable before they moved in.

“We see a lot of generosity and goodwill in what hosts report doing for their guests,” Tim Gibbs, from the ONS, said.

“The majority are still hosting and many indicate a willingness to host beyond the initial six months.

“However, we also see the additional work and expense involved in hosting with some saying more or ongoing support would be welcomed.”

‘Testament to goodwill’ of British public

Lord Richard Harrington, the refugees minister, said the vast majority of sponsors wanted to provide support for longer than six months, which was a “testament to the goodwill the British public has shown the people of Ukraine since tanks first rolled across the border”.

Sponsors would continue to receive thank you payments for up to 12 months and the Government is contacting hosts to outline the next steps and support available, he said.

“We initially asked sponsors to host for a minimum of six months and we are working closely with councils to ensure Ukrainians have a safe place to live if they decide to move on,” Lord Harrington said.

There are concerns from councils about the number of hosts who say they do not want to continue with the scheme, and James Jamieson, the Local Government Association chairman, said they were talking to the Government about how they might be encouraged to do so.

“For instance, increasing the thank you payment to a higher amount so the sponsors can be sure it’s not costing them,” he said.

“There is a significant risk – even if re-matching is available – that many Ukrainian families may need to present as homeless because of a lack of sponsors or options.”

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