Homes for Ukraine: Quarter of refugee sponsors do not want to carry onon August 10, 2022 at 12:44 pm

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Over 25% of Homes for Ukraine sponsors want to stop after the initial six months, ONS survey finds.

Ukrainian refugee children from the City of Buchach volunteer at Ukrainian Cultural Centre 'Dnipro' sorting out humanitarian aid for compatriots in the UK and Ukraine on 29 March 2022 in Manchester, EnglandImage source, Getty Images

A quarter of sponsors of Ukrainians as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme do not want to continue the arrangement beyond six months, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.

Launched in March, it has seen around 75,000 refugees arrive in the UK.

Sponsors agreed to provide accommodation in their own home for a minimum of six months.

But there are concerns at what will happen when those arrangements reach the end of that time.

That 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.

An ONS survey of Homes for Ukraine hosts found 26% want to end their sponsorship after six months or less.

Six out of 10 sponsors said they 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.

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

Of those who did not wish to accommodate Ukrainians for more than six months, just under a quarter said their decision was down to the rising cost of living.

Sponsors currently receive £350 a month but the survey found four in 10 might be prepared to host for longer if there was more financial help.

The ONS surveyed all UK adults registered with the scheme as of 7 July, 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.

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

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

“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.”

There are concerns from councils about the number of hosts who say they do not want to continue with the scheme, and Local Government Association chairman James Jamieson 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 that – even if rematching is available – many Ukrainian families may need to present as homeless because of a lack of sponsors or other options.”

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