As part of the current Homes for Ukraine scheme, British households are required to house refugees for up to six months to receive a monthly payment of £350. However, the number of Ukrainian refugees looking for emergency relief has now spiked as the six-month deadline has approached, leaving fears that British host families may be withdrawing support during the current cost of living crisis.
There are now 2,985 Ukrainian households that have declared themselves homeless to their local council, but the actual figure may be higher as not all councils have provided data to the Government.
Government figures from last month show that more than 2,000 Ukrainian families with children are now homeless alongside 900 individuals, which is a sharp rise of 800.
Currently around 600 Ukrainian families have been placed in temporary homes, such as hotels, as councils try to find housing for them.
Certain councils in Kent, Hampshire and Gloucestershire are now offering further cash assistance to British host families in an attempt to convince them to keep supporting Ukrainian refugees.
James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, has said his organisation is “deeply concerned” about the situation.
He said: “It is absolutely crucial that support to sponsors is enhanced as inflation and energy costs increase so new or existing hosts are encouraged to sponsor in the longer term.
“Council housing and homelessness services are already under significant pressures and further increases may mean families are forced to move into temporary accommodation away from the new schools, jobs and communities they have been building since they arrived.”
The chairman continued: “Councils will continue to do all they can to help those who are owed homelessness duties, but need urgent solutions to pressing housing needs in the short and the long term across all the schemes that welcome new arrivals to the UK.”
A Government source spoke with The Times newspaper and said it was “inevitable” that a large number of Ukrainian refugee placements with British families would breakdown, but added the current homelessness figures were now “spiking dramatically”.
It has been reported that Michael Gove, the housing secretary, may now be planning to increase the payment for British hosting families, as the increases in the cost of living are understood to be a large factor in why so many hosts are ending the arrangement.
One source said there was “continued wrangling” over funding with the Treasury, but Mr Grove argued that more payments to hosting families will be cheaper than providing social housing or paying rent for Ukrainian refugees.
The source added: “I think there is an acknowledgement on all sides that the best way to keep costs down is to encourage the sponsorship arrangements to carry on for as long as possible.
“But obviously the Government has a lot of calls on its resources at the moment.”
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A Government spokesman said: “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.”
However, one senior official in local Government said: “We are facing a perfect storm.
“There is a cliff edge with the Home for Ukraine scheme combined with growing demand from UK families facing eviction because they can’t pay their rent.
“This is on top of the asylum crisis and ten thousand Afghans who are still largely living in unsuitable hotels. It is a disaster.”