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Homes for Ukraine: Risk of homelessness in scheme likely to increase, PAC report warns

23 February 2024

  • Report questions Home Office and DLUHC on options for permanent settlement
  • Questions raised around ongoing contract with Palantir for scheme’s data system

In a report published today, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) raises concerns that the risk of homelessness among Ukrainians in the UK is likely to increase, as more arrangements between Ukrainian guests and their UK sponsors end or break down. The Government does not have a full and accurate picture of homelessness within the Homes for Ukraine scheme which is hampering planning.

At the end of August 2023, councils reported that 4,890 Ukrainian households in England who were in the UK on Homes for Ukraine visas had been homeless or come close to being so. Government’s planning assumption was that 50% of sponsorships could break down. However, it does not have complete data on how many relationships have done so; around 30% of English councils do not regularly provide homelessness data to Government on those Ukrainians in the UK under the scheme.

The PAC is therefore calling on Government to set out what action it will take to increase the number of local authorities that regularly provide homelessness data returns, and secure an adequate supply of sponsors for the scheme in the future in a cost-effective way.

The report had highlighted the uncertainty that had been caused for those Ukrainians who arrived in the early days of the scheme by the lack of a Government decision on whether to extend their visas, which start to expire from March 2025. The Government has made a number of announcements with regard to the Homes for Ukraine visa schemes since the PAC agreed its report. The PAC is calling for further information from Government on whether options for permanent settlement will be available under current plans.

There are also questions around the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ (DLUHC) contract with digital services company Palantir. The scheme was set up at speed by Government, and in order to do so DLUHC accepted an offer from the company to provide six months’ free support to create the scheme’s main data system. This six-month trial period was followed by the signing and extending of contracts with Palantir worth upwards of £10m.

The Government’s Chief Commercial Officer is on record being concerned about the practice of companies offering the public sector free services to gain a commercial foothold. The report highlights the PAC’s own concerns that DLUHC may find it challenging to run a fully competitive procurement process before the current contract ends. The report recommends Government set out its commercial options in September 2024, when the contract ends.

Chair's comment

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The Government acted swiftly to provide essential support to those of our Ukrainian neighbours seeking refuge from Putin’s barbaric war. Over 140,000 people have now come to stay in the UK as part of Homes for Ukraine at January 2024, and given the circumstances of their arrival it is important that the Government provide as much clarity around their stay here as possible.

It is welcome to see the Government acting in line with our recommendations in this area through its extensions to visas. We look forward to hearing how much more certainty it is able provide to those staying in the UK, particularly in light of the recent closure of the Ukraine Family Scheme.

As the war has continued the challenge now is that thousands of Ukrainian households were homeless or close to it last year. Not only is this a huge problem but our report finds that there is no full oversight of homelessness within the scheme itself. There are of course factors here which make long-term planning challenging, not least the continuing uncertainty in Ukraine itself. But the Government must ensure it has a plan to support those who have sought safety in the UK.”

Further information

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