Thousands of Ukrainians homeless in UK – government

Aprilia Rine

Thousands of Ukrainians homeless in UK – government
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Relationships between the refugees and their British hosts have broken down, the report found

At least 15,000 Ukrainian refugees have sought homelessness support after relationships with their British sponsors broke down or ended, according to a report published by the UK government on Friday.

As of January, Around 141,000 Ukrainians have come to the UK under the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, which pays British homeowners £350 ($444) per month to take in a Ukrainian citizen or family on a six-month contract.

By the end of last August, however, 4,890 Ukrainian households – meaning one parent and at least one child – taken in under the scheme had been left homeless or come close to homelessness, the Public Accounts Committee stated in the report. With an additional 3,000 single Ukrainians seeking homelessness support from councils as of late January, at least 15,000 have been left without accommodation over the last two years.

A total of 200,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum in the UK since February 2022, and around 400 continue to arrive each week, according to the report. 

The report blamed the problem on relationships between the Ukrainians and their British hosts “breaking down,” and on hosts refusing to extend their initial six-month contracts. It did not specify what was causing the apparent breakdown however. 

The figures in the report are incomplete, as a third of local councils failed to share homelessness data with the government. Likewise, most local authorities did not record why sponsors chose to stop participating in the scheme. 

Problems with ‘Homes for Ukraine’ were already apparent in August 2022, when a report by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and children’s charity Barnardos warned that 50,000 Ukrainians could be left homeless as Britons withdrew from the scheme. The report stated that £350 was likely not enough compensation for sponsors, and that the majority of those who opened their homes to Ukrainians only ever intended to do so on a short-term basis.

Friday’s report called on the government to “secure an adequate supply of sponsors for the scheme in the future in a cost-effective way.”

READ MORE: Attitude to Ukrainians shifting dramatically in Poland – survey

By the end of September 2023, the UK had spent £2.1 billion ($2.6 billion) on the scheme. 

Ukrainian refugees are granted three-year visas to remain in the UK. With the first of these visas set to expire in March 2025, the government announced on Sunday that it would allow those already in the UK to extend their visas by 18 months.

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