Written evidence submitted by The District Councils’ Network (DCN)


About DCN

The District Councils’ Network (DCN) represents 163 district councils and 5 unitary councils across England. DCN is proud that our member councils have welcomed more than 47,000 Ukrainians into their communities.


It is our moral duty to support Ukrainians and refugees who are in our local areas.


DCN councils and all housing authorities work to ensure all Ukrainian arrivals have access the safe, suitable housing and welfare assistance they need to settle in our communities. They are working closely with other councils and local partners to provide vital wraparound support. For example: ensuring access to interpreters and English language lessons, facilitating access to local support services including health, and arranging subsidised use of transport.


The objectives of the scheme and how it was set up


The scheme was mobilised quickly and at pace, which is testament to the generosity of our local communities, the welcoming response of hosts and the hard work of councils.


Communities have stepped forward to offer homes and support to families and individuals affected to enable them to build new lives in the UK.


Given the speed at which the scheme was set up, it has worked impressively.


However, as we move closer to second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, we fear there is a risk that the resettlement schemes will suffer from neglect of oversight and funding. There is a growing risk of people falling through the cracks in service provision and being unaware that they can access services that are specific to Ukrainian refugees.


Housing and homelessness

There is significant pressure on councils and local housing markets. Across England, 7,990 Ukrainian households have presented as homelessness. DCN councils and all housing authorities are working flat-out to ensure all Ukrainian arrivals have the safe, suitable housing and welfare assistance they need to settle in our communities. They are also doing all they can to assist those owed homelessness duties.


Our member councils are committed to working with government to support our new residents from Ukraine. However, given the current cost-of-living crisis, district councils’ ability to support all of our residents at risk of homelessness is under more pressure than ever before.


DCN is calling for urgent funding to be made available so that councils can meet our responsibilities. In particular, DCN is calling for an increase in Local Housing Allowance rates and increases to the homelessness prevention fund and Discretionary Housing Payments.


DCN welcomed the introduction of the Local Authority Housing Fund. This will begin to address the challenge of finding long-term housing for those who need it. However, housing pressures are intensifying and although this is a positive first step, much more will be needed to provide sufficient affordable accommodation for all those who require it.


Already, nearly 8,000 Ukrainians have presented as homeless across England, and there are many from countries including Afghanistan and Syria who still need places to live.


This comes at a time when housing teams are already under immense pressure. For context, since 2021 the number of households in district areas presenting as already homeless is up by 17%. 


DCN wishes to see both short-term and long-term funding made available so that we can ensure that everyone in our communities has access to safe, secure and good quality accommodation and that all new arrivals from Ukraine and elsewhere feel as welcome as possible.


Funding provided for the scheme

The council tariff has been reduced to £5,900 per person for Ukrainian arrivals (from £10,500) entering the UK from 1 January 2023. DCN member councils have raised concerns that this has reduced the funding available to housing teams carrying out crucial inspections of potential accommodation for arrivals, at a time when these services are immensely stretched.

The Government has acknowledged the generosity of the hosts within our communities by offering extended and increased monthly thank-you payments of £500. It is right that we should reward the kindness of host families and, vitally, the extra money will also help to prevent many placements ending. However, DCN councils are concerned that this payment is only available up until March 2024. Unless we receive further clarity about payments from April 2024 onwards, there is a danger that we could see more placements end, which would result in an increase in homelessness.


Alongside further thank-you payments, DCN believes the Government should launch a renewed national campaign to increase the number of Homes for Ukraine sponsors.


Arrival numbers and checks conducted on applicants and sponsors

DCN councils have raised concerns that data on the Foundry case management system is often inaccurate, creating problems in terms of risk management and mitigation.


DCN member councils have also reported that visas are being issued before local authority checks have been completed. Our members have raised the potential for safeguarding issues, where people are placed with sponsors before local authority checks have been completed on their suitability.


Councils have also reported an increase in fraudulent sponsorship applications, which highlights the importance of data accuracy. Councils are working hard to identify fraudulent applications swiftly and notify Foundry.


DCN is keen to work with the Home Office on changes to the timelines and checks in the visa process to ensure that safeguarding concerns and concerns about possible fraud are addressed.







Our member councils are committed to working with government to support our new residents from Ukraine. We want to ensure all Ukrainian arrivals have the safe, suitable housing and welfare assistance they need to settle in our communities.


DCN is calling for:


November 2023