Fears are growing over mass homelessness of Ukrainians in UK this winter

Up to 50,000 Ukrainian refugees hosted by households in Britain under UK government policy could soon be left homeless, it is feared.

The “Homes for Ukraine” scheme, launched on March 18, allows British residents to house refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine for at least six months. Households received a monthly thank you payment of £350 ($409).

But the continuing war with Russia, the UK’s cost of living crisis and a lack of additional government support for sponsors and refugees could lead to the scheme collapsing, with potentially disastrous effects, when first six-month internships will end next month.

To date, a total of 83,900 refugees have arrived under Homes for Ukraine. A further 34,100 people are covered by the Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows UK residents to bring relatives from the war-torn country, but without financial support from the government.

While the majority stayed with their sponsors or relatives, other arrangements were severed, leaving some refugees destitute and without a roof over their heads.

Government figures show 1,335 ‘Ukrainian households’ have registered as homeless in the UK since the start of the war in late February, but ministers and charities have warned the number could rise sharply by now some months.

Analysis by the Labor Party, Liberal Democrats and children’s charity Barnardo’s found that, based on feedback from hosts, between 15,000 and 21,000 Ukrainians could be left homeless by winter, for reach more than 50,000 by mid-2023, The Guardian reported.

Reception organization Refugees at Home says the figure could be even higher due to the effect of the cost of living crisis on households’ ability to help others.

When reports of the investment allocation began circulating in June, the charity’s executive director, Lauren Scott, said The National she was ‘frustrated and saddened but not surprised’ and thought things would get worse once the ‘reception honeymoon’ phase was over.

The first six-month period expires at the end of September amid a shortage of new hosts, despite around 4,000-5,000 Ukrainians arriving in the UK each week.

In a survey of Homes for Ukraine sponsors conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month, almost a quarter of respondents said they wanted to host refugees for six months or less.

While a large majority said they would like to continue hosting for longer than this minimum period, many raised concerns that the government’s monthly stipend would not cover rising energy and food bills. .

The survey found that almost one in 10 sponsors said the rising cost of living affected their ability to provide support “a lot” and almost all hosts said they regularly provided some form of support to the sponsor. beyond accommodation.

With Britain’s nationwide housing shortage and more than 9,500 Afghan refugees still living in hotels a year after arriving in the UK, charities have raised alarm bells over the availability of long-term housing for Ukrainians once their initial reception period is over.

Refugees Minister Lord Harrington said last week that monthly payments to British hosts would have to double after six months to £700, but the Treasury has so far refused.

The ONS said almost half of Ukrainians who have come to the UK have found jobs, but responses revealed many more were struggling to find jobs because their qualifications are not recognized in the UK. United States and their language skills are limited.

On Tuesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel called on landlords to help house the thousands of Afghan refugees who have not yet been given permanent government accommodation. write in The temperatureshe urged landlords to provide suitable accommodation.

Far fewer Afghans arrived last year compared to Ukrainians this year, but the lack of progress on housing is seen by some as a worrying indicator of what lies ahead if the Homes for Ukraine program s was collapsing.

The founder of Vigil for Visas, a support group for Ukrainians applying for visas to the UK, said the government should provide financial support to sponsors for three years, the same length given to Ukrainian refugees.

“The government’s commitment was for three years, not six months, so there needs to be a longer-term game plan that doesn’t waste the goodwill of so many,” said Kitty Hamilton.

Growing tension and shifting responsibilities between Westminster and local authorities could further heighten the worrying specter of homelessness among Ukrainians in the UK.

A government official said councils ‘have a duty to ensure that families are not left without a roof over their heads’. The government is working closely with councils to ensure Ukrainians have access to adequate housing if they decide to move, the official said.

“We provided them with £10,500 per person to cover costs, with access to a rematching service to find a new sponsor in the rare event of a sponsorship breakdown,” the rep said. “We have already taken action to ensure the £350 thank you payments are tax free and continue to monitor and review the support provided.

Updated: August 30, 2022, 1:07 p.m.

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