50,000 Ukrainian refugees face homelessness in UK – media
Despite the pleas of activists, it is unclear whether increased payments to host families can avert the problem
Some 50,000 Ukrainians could be homeless in the UK next year, as the government’s scheme to match refugees with British families breaks down, The Guardian reported on Sunday. With the cost of living spiraling, the opposition wants the government to boost payments to host families.
Analysis by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and children’s charity Barnardos found that, based on feedback from British hosts, between 15,000 and 21,000 Ukrainians could be homeless by the winter, rising to more than 50,000 by mid-2023, the newspaper reported.
To date, 83,900 refugees have arrived in the UK since March under the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, under which British households are paid £350 ($411) per month to house refugees for six months. However, as of earlier this month, 1,330 Ukrainian households in England – 385 single refugees and 945 families with children – have left the scheme and are now homeless.
It is unclear why these matches did not work out, but campaigners told The Guardian that some hosts signed up enthusiastically without understanding “the implications and consequences of this sort of responsibility,”while others are finding that due to the rising cost of living in the UK, £350 per month is no longer sufficient to support new additions to the household.
A further wave of homelessness is expected from September onwards, when most of the six-month sponsorship agreements expire.
Minister of State for Refugees Lord Harrington has lobbied the Treasury to double monthly payments for those who can host refugees for more than six months, but the government has given no indication that it will act on his recommendations, and Harrington has taken to pleading with British households to join the scheme.
However, while some of the activists who spoke to The Guardian said the impending crisis could be averted with more financial support from the government, a majority of sponsors aren’t motivated by money. According to a recent government survey, only a quarter of those quitting the scheme after six months said they were doing so because they could no longer afford to take part, and just four in ten said that more money would encourage them to extend their participation.
A majority (58%) said they only ever intended to provide short-term accommodation.
Yet Ukrainian refugees arriving in Britain under the scheme have been given visas for three years. “The government’s commitment was for three years, not six months, so there needs to be a longer-term game plan that doesn’t squander the goodwill of so many,” pro-immigration activist Kitty Hamilton told The Guardian. “The implication was to give the government a chance to make more substantial plans and for the invasion to end. But nothing has happened.”