Number of homeless Ukrainian refugees ‘rises by 30% in a month’

There are fears that Ukrainian refugees could be left homeless (Stock image)  (PA Wire)
There are fears that Ukrainian refugees could be left homeless (Stock image) (PA Wire)

The number of homeless Ukrainian refugees in England has risen by almost 30 per cent in a month, according to a report.

British host families are beginning to wind down their support for Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s war as the cost of living crisis bites, new figures suggest.

Data analysed by The Times found that more than 2,000 families with children and 900 individuals are now officially homeless, up from 800 last month. There are 2,985 Ukrainian households who have presented themselves as homeless to councils, the figures showed.

As part of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, host families are obliged to provide support to refugees for up to six months and receive a monthly payment of £350 for up to a year if they participate. However, it is feared that the surging cost of food and energy have prompted many British hosts to withdraw support after the six-month deadline has passed.

Government sources told the newspaper that housing secretary Michael Gove is in discussions with the Treasury to double the payments given to host families. He is said to believe that increasing the payment would be cheaper than finding new accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

Separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month found that Ukrainians who have come to the UK have had trouble renting as they do not have a guarantor or references.

Some have moved addresses since arriving in the country as a result of “relationship difficulties” with their sponsor, the findings also indicate.

The Government launched two visa schemes in March so those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine could come to the UK for up to three years.

The family scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their relatives to join other family already living in the UK, while Homes for Ukraine allows Ukrainian nationals and their relatives to come to the UK if they have a sponsor who can provide accommodation.

Some 144,600 people had arrived in the UK under the Ukraine visa schemes as of November 14, according to Government figures.

Last week, the Welsh Government announced that refugees fleeing Ukraine would have to begin contributing towards the cost of meals and laundry.

After a five week settling in period, refugees will either be in receipt of Universal Credit, assessed as ineligible due to savings or be employed, the Welsh Government said.

A government spokesman told The Times: “More than 105,000 people have arrived through the Homes for Ukraine scheme and the vast majority of sponsors want to provide support for longer than six months.

“We are working closely with councils to ensure all those who have fled Putin’s war have a safe place to live and, in the minority of cases where family or sponsor relationships break down, councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their head.

“All arrivals have access to benefits from day one and we are giving councils extra funding to cover any extra costs.”

The Government has been approached for further comment.