Written evidence submitted by South Cambridgeshire District Council

Reason for submitting evidence: The Council is the district authority with the highest number of visas granted in the country and we have considerable experience in supporting guests and hosts when they arrive as well as providing help to move on to live more independently.

Objectives of the scheme and how it was set up:

We support the objectives of the initiative as the Homes for Ukraine scheme has provided a far more supportive environment than other schemes that have, in general, relied on hotel accommodation for many people.

The scheme was set up at pace and Foundry, which is a vital link for local authorities was put in place extremely quickly. Due to speed, there was issues with data in the system in the early days of the scheme. As a result, we put a lot of resource in to ensuring our data was sound and we had a good foundation to work from. Without work to investigate the data we would have ben working with a poor foundation. That said, we do feel Government did a good job as they were very responsive and developed the platform to smooth out the issues.


There has been a high level of engagement with local authorities to address issues and improve processes. However, initially this was not the case and it felt like we were provided with Foundry and we had to deal with the issues we faced. Once the Foundry team realised that local authorities, especially those with a high number of guests, such as ourselves, could help co-design and solve quirks fastewr progress was made.

Arrival numbers and checks conducted on applicants and sponsors:

We have seen 863 arrivals to date (of which 35 were rematched from another Local Authority area). 1010 DBS checks carried out on sponsors / hosts. 626 property checks and 490 Welfare visits.

When the scheme first launched, we had arrivals before all the necessary checks were carried out. This was not ideal and if there had been issues, we would have been dealing with resolving it as the processes passed this responsibility to the local council. Once the scheme had bed in the system was very good.

Funding provided for the scheme:

We feel the scheme is adequately funded. Some councils were concerned by the reduction in tariff but due to our large numbers, and the fact most guests had arrived in the first 9 months of the scheme we did not feel the reduction was disproportionate. The flexibility of the funding was welcomed and put trust in local councils to deliver what was needed.

The funding was provided to the upper tier authority, but locally the lower tier carried did the majority of the mandatory checks. We have a very good relationship with the upper tier authority to ensure funding was allocated where required, but the Government should consider directly funding lower tier for scheme reliant on district for matters where the skills, such as environmental health and homelessness, lie.


Challenges and future risks:

The biggest challenge in the initial phase of the scheme was the uncertainty of the Government’s plan beyond 6 months. Despite us calling for clarification on host thank you payments this was only provided very close to the point the first guests had been housed under the scheme for 6 months. This created huge uncertainty and risked hosts leaving the scheme.

This risk still exists now as thank you payments have been extended to 2 years. We have written to Ministers to ask for confirmation now whether thank you payments will extend beyond 2 years. Especially as biometric passports are provided for 3 years. There has been no response.

We are in a high housing cost area with huge demand for private rental accommodation. We are supportive and grateful for the Government’s capital investment in supporting us to purchase additional homes for guests, but we have 863 arrivals in our area which creates a massive challenge for us to provide them with high quality and affordable housing options. The tariff funding has helped ensure creative options could be developed but around half of our arrivals still require support to move on to live more independently. The exit strategy for the Homes for Ukraine scheme did not seem to be in place when it was created and local councils have been asked to deal with it at a time when the pressure on local housing could not be more acute.


November 2023