HFU0014

 

Written evidence submitted by Richard Machin, Senior Lecturer, Social Work and Health, at Nottingham Trent University

 

This written evidence is submitted by Richard Machin, Senior Lecturer, Social Work and Health, at Nottingham Trent University. He specialises in social welfare law and practice and previously managed a local government welfare rights and money advice service. This evidence builds upon his policy analysis of Homes for Ukraine, an accompanying policy briefing, and overview of the emerging homelessness issues for displaced Ukrainians. The analysis has been completed in consultation with welfare rights professionals completing case work with Homes for Ukraine guests.

  1. Background

The war in Ukraine has created an unprecedented European refugee crisis. By 30 June 2023, over 179,00 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK under one of the government’s visa schemes.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme was quickly established and rolled out on 14 March 2022. Approved Homes for Ukraine guests are granted three years’ leave to remain and immediate rights to welfare benefits, work and study. It should be acknowledged that the scope of these provisions is more comprehensive than for many other groups moving to the UK and more generous than the standard asylum system. However, this written evidence demonstrates that there are significant areas of challenge relating to access to the welfare benefits system, safeguarding, inconsistencies between the Homes for Ukraine and Ukraine Family Scheme, homelessness, funding, and long-term resettlement.

  1. Concerns

The main issues of concern relate to social security, housing and inconsistencies between Homes for Ukraine and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. These concerns are detailed below.

2.1   Social security

 

 

2.2   Housing

 

 

      A breakdown in hosting arrangements: many Homes for Ukraine placements end at the minimum 6-month period creating a housing need for the guest. Some hosts have acknowledged that they did not fully appreciate the practical and emotional burdens of providing accommodation. The number of people offering accommodation through the scheme has fallen sharply since the early period of the conflict. For some hosts the cost-of-living crisis is an influencing factor as there are costs associated with accommodating a guest which may not be covered by the thank-you payment.

      Problems accessing long-term housing, particularly in the private-rented sector: supply and affordability issues in the private rented sector can be acutely experienced by Homes for Ukraine guests. It is not uncommon for private landlords to request 6-12 months rent in advance, a substantial deposit and guarantor. A lack of credit history and references can exacerbate problems. In the short-term accessing social housing is often not an option due to pressures in this sector.

      Inconsistent and insufficient support provided to Homes for Ukraine guests to secure long-term accommodation: many hosts live in more affluent areas and when a Homes for Ukraine arrangement ends the guest is unable to find affordable housing in the same area. This can be particularly problematic if work and school places have been secured. Some voluntary sector groups and charities have had to scale back housing and integration support as the conflict persists and local authority funding has halved in the second year of the scheme (from an initial figure of £10,500 for each arrival).

 

 

2.3   Inconsistencies between Homes for Ukraine and the Ukraine Family Scheme

 

 

  1. Recommendations

 

 

  1. Monitoring and research

 

 

November 2023