Homes for Ukraine Scheme - decision time

The National Audit Office says the government will soon have to take hard decisions on the future for the Homes For Ukraine scheme. It's on record that by end of July 2023, the Home Office had processed over 182,000 visa applications from Ukrainians, of which 77 per cent were processed within 15 working days, though rates have slowed for more recent applicants. It was also recorded that as at the end of September 2023, the government had provided £2.1 billion in funding the scheme, the majority through payments to local councils and thank you payments to sponsors, and the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities continues to provide funding for new arrivals. A new NAO report out today says the visas for the first Ukrainians to arrive under the scheme will expire in Spring 2025, and it is unclear whether government intends to extend existing three-year visas.

"The government will soon need to take important decisions about the future of the scheme, including whether to extend visas beyond three years, and whether to extend funding for local authorities and sponsors, which currently finishes before visas expire. It will also need to carefully monitor key risks, such as safeguarding, and the threat of homelessness as sponsorships end." The British public's generosity enabled the government to move at speed to temporarily support Ukrainians seeking refuge from war, successfully supporting 131,000 Ukrainians arriving into the UK since March 2022 with £2.1 billion in funding.

'Thank you' payments of £350 a month in year one and £500 a month in year two are paid to sponsors hosting Ukrainian refugees, but these are due to finish one year before visas expire. Just under 74,000 sponsors have applied to host Ukrainians under the scheme. Unless sponsors are willing to host Ukrainians without those payments, Ukrainians on the scheme will need other housing solutions.

About 4,890 households that arrived on the scheme in England at that time - have been assessed by a local authority as being at risk of homelessness or being homeless.


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