Cost of living crisis threatens Homes for Ukraine scheme

The cost of living crisis is impacting people’s willingness to partake in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

21% of current or previous sponsors said the rise in cost-of-living had impacted their ability to provide support “quite a lot” and 9 per cent said it had “very much” harmed their ability to help their guests.

The government scheme, launched in March this year has seen around 75,000 Ukrainian refugees arrive in the UK. It has previously faced criticism for its ineffectiveness and lack of long-term plan.

Sponsors receive a £350 per month payment under the scheme to help offset their costs. However, this figure does not increase whether you have one or ten refugees in your home.

When offering to host, sponsors agreed to allow the refugees to remain in their homes for a minimum of six months. But now this deadline is fast-approaching, there is uncertainty about what comes next.

A sponsor who has been a host for five months now and wished to remain anonymous told that the scheme “was a complete let down to both the refugees and the host families”.

He added that he “had so far only received one of the five £350 payments that the government promised” and “can’t afford to house extra bodies in the current economy”. He noted that the idea of the Ukrainians becoming homeless or continuing their trauma is “heart-breaking” for him, but that he must put his own family first.

He hosts a mother and her 6-year-old son. Sveta, the mother, told us that she is “terrified” for what the next year will bring.

Shadow Levelling up, Housing and Communities Secretary Lisa Nandy, wrote on Twitter: “It’d be shameful if Ukrainian families who fled the bombs and bullets of Putin find themselves homeless in the UK because ministers have clocked off and put the Tory leadership race ahead of doing their jobs”.

The figures also found that over a quarter of sponsors who have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees under the government’s flagship scheme do not want to continue past the six-month period.

The ONS survey also revealed that almost all sponsors felt they had gone far beyond the scheme’s requirements, with 8 out of 10 saying they had provided food, two thirds saying they had helped them find work and 45% providing financial support.

It is the first time the ONS has published data on sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and it cautioned that the figures are experimental.