Written evidence submitted by More in Common


More in Common is a think tank and research agency founded in 2016 with the mission to tackle polarisation and division in the UK and across Western societies. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, More in Common has worked with our partners across government and civil society to support the development and roll-out of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Our extensive quantitative and qualitative research with the general public, and with hosts and guests of the scheme, provides a unique perspective for the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into what can be learned from the scheme – including what worked well and what could be improved.

Four key findings emerge from our work on this issue since February 2022:

1)      There was and remains very high levels of public support for welcoming Ukrainians through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and for the financial support given to hosts as part of this scheme. This support includes extending Ukrainian visas beyond the initial three-year commitment.

2)      Hosts were very positive about the scheme, were glad they took part, got along with their Ukrainian guests and thought they have integrated well as part of the scheme.

3)      Financial support for hosts proved to be a significant, although not primary, motivator in encouraging hosts to continue hosting after the initial 6-month period of hosting ended

4)      There is much room for support from local and central government to be improved in this scheme and for future schemes – particularly on post-hosting housing support. Many hosts were concerned by the lack of planning put into transitioning Ukrainians to more permanent accommodation following an initial period of hosting.

High support for helping Ukrainians

More in Common has conducted multiple rounds of polling on public attitudes to welcoming Ukrainians since February 2022. Across this time, high support for welcoming Ukrainians has been consistent. In April 2022, our polling found that 83 per cent of the public supported the UK taking in Ukrainian refugees, and in March 2023 once more than 150,000 Ukrainians had come to the UK, 71 per cent said it was a good thing that the UK had taken them in.

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There were similarly high levels of support for the financial support given to hosts under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. In our polling in November 2022 (when there was public discussion about the status of payments after the initial 6 months hosting period), 64 per cent of the public supported keeping the payments the same or increasing them, to only 24 per cent who thought they should be reduced or scrapped.

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In addition, a clear majority of the British public think Ukrainians should be able to stay in the UK as long as they need to. In July 2023, our polling found that over half the public (55 per cent) backed Ukrainian refugees staying in the UK for as long as they needed to, compared to under a quarter (24 per cent) who felt that Ukrainian refugees should leave the country after their initial three year visa expires – just over a fifth of the public (21 per cent) responded ‘don’t know’.

Hosts verdict on the Homes for Ukraine scheme

In February 2023, More in Common conducted a survey of over 1200 hosts of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, forming a fairly representative sample of hosts under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and the largest survey of hosts outside the regular ONS survey. Our survey focused on hosts appraisal of the scheme, how glad they were to take part, the relationships with their Ukrainian guests and their assessment of the support provided by local and central government.

What was overwhelming clear from this research was that hosts had a very positive view of the scheme. Four in five hosts (81 per cent) said their overall experience with the scheme was positive (compared to just 12 per cent who said negative) and almost nine in ten hosts (88 per cent) said that they were glad they had taken part in the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

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Hosts had positive experiences welcoming their Ukrainian guests. On average, hosts gave an average score of 8.43 out of ten for how well they got on with their Ukrainian guest – more than half of hosts gave a nine or ten out of ten. On how well their Ukrainian guests had settled into the UK, hosts gave an average score of 7.18 out of ten.

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The importance of financial support for hosts

Most hosts in the Homes for Ukraine scheme did not get involved , in the first instance, for money reasons. Indeed, when asked about why they decided to take part in the scheme, financial considerations came low on the list and only less than one in ten hosts (9 per cent) selected the £350 monthly payment as a motivator for involvement in the scheme. Most hosts were moved to help those Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s invasion of their country (96 per cent of hosts said they were moved to help), while others (around three quarters) felt they could help, so they should help (e.g. they had the space in their house and six months was a manageable time commitment).

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However, continuing financial support for hosts did play a significant role in hosts choosing to continue to host after the initial six-month commitment ended. Of the 53 per cent of hosts who indicated that they were happy to continue hosting as of February 2023, almost one third (15 per cent) explicitly stated this was only the case if they continued to receive the monthly payments. This was reflected in the focus groups we conducted with hosts, for example one host told us:We are almost definitely going to extend to a year, but in part this will depend on the payments. Our Council is making monthly payments of £550pm from 6 months which is making a big difference to our inclination to carry on hosting”. The importance of the payment to hosts for the continuing hosting of many Ukrainian guests should not be underestimated.


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Improvements needed in support from central and local government

Our quantitative and qualitative research with hosts found that there is space for improving the support provided by local and central government in the Homes for Ukraine scheme – and any similar schemes in the future. On average hosts rated support from local and national government between 5/10 and 6/10. Although a significant minority of hosts (around a third) gave a much higher score to their interactions and experiences with local government.

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Our focus groups and analysis of open-text responses in the survey found that the main challenge where hosts felt unsupported was in support for their Ukrainian guests to transition to more permanent accommodation. Many hosts expected to host for six months and felt let down when they were expected to find permanent accommodation for their guests.

We're now into our tenth month of hosting our guests. We get on very well and they are extremely respectful but it would be nice to have our house back. However there is so little help available to assist them in moving on and finding their own accommodation (and we would never make them homeless) so we're not hopeful that this next step will be possible?!

My Ukrainian family are ready to move into their own flat but there is no support to help us and them achieve this. I feel let down by the authorities. The council providing free pizza nights for Ukrainians is great but what they really need is practical help to settle and get on with their lives here

Our survey findings also reflected this feeling of being unsupported in helping guests to find housing. Just over one in ten hosts (12 per cent) said they had been given help to find accommodation for their guests in the private rental sectors, and when asked how the scheme could be improved, the most popular responses were more support from local authorities to find permanent housing and greater clarity over what happens after the initial six months period of hosting.

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Where support was successful was in the practical help over on language lessons. Almost two thirds of hosts (63 per cent) said their local council had offered language lessons for Ukrainian guests. Two in five hosts said additional financial support from their council had been offered, as well as support finding school places for Ukrainian children. Over a third (37 per cent) said their guests received support from local councils to help their Ukrainian guest find employment, while under a quarter (24 per cent) said their guest had received help finding employment.

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November 2023