Hundreds of Ukrainian nationals welcomed to England classed as homeless

·2-min read
A refugee from Ukraine looks through donations collected by the Ukraine Relief Group, which organises donations for Ukrainian refugees in the UK, at the TN2 Community Centre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
A refugee from Ukraine looks through donations collected by the Ukraine Relief Group, which organises donations for Ukrainian refugees in the UK, at the TN2 Community Centre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Hundreds of Ukrainians welcomed to England since Russia’s invasion have been left homeless or are threatened with homelessness, new figures show.

Families allowed to come to the country either to join relatives or as part of the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme have instead found accommodation unavailable or had arrangements to house them break down.

A total of 660 Ukrainian households were owed a statutory homelessness duty by local authorities in England in the period up to June 3, according to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

This means they had been assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Some 180 were single households, while 480 were households with dependant children.

The figures do not reflect the scale of homelessness across England because more than a quarter (26%) of local authorities did not respond to the survey, which was not compulsory.

A Government spokesperson said: “More than 77,200 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK since Putin’s invasion and all arrivals have access to benefits and public services, as well as the right to work or study, from the day they arrive.

“The overwhelming majority of people are settling in well but in the minority of cases where family or sponsor relationships break down, councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their head.

Councils also have access to a rematching service to find a new sponsor in cases under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”

Ukrainian refugee Kira Ryndova, aged three, holds a soft toy as she sits on the steps of 10 Downing Street in London after visiting with her family to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson, following their arrival in the UK (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Ukrainian refugee Kira Ryndova, aged three, holds a soft toy as she sits on the steps of 10 Downing Street in London after visiting with her family to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson, following their arrival in the UK (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, two schemes have been established to allow refugees to travel to the UK.

The Homes For Ukraine sponsorship scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor.

Figures published on Thursday show that 90 households in England admitted through this scheme have been assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness because the arrangement for their accommodation has “broken down”, along with a further 55 households whose accommodation was “not available or suitable on arrival”.

Under the separate Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK, 175 households in England have been assessed as homeless because arrangements have broken down, along with 280 whose accommodation was unavailable or unsuitable.

There were 55 households where the reason for being assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness was classed as “other” or “not known”.

Of the total 660 households owed a statutory homelessness duty, just over half (345) were recorded as being in temporary accommodation when the figures were compiled.

This includes bed and breakfast hotels, hostels, housing association properties and other types of accommodation used by local authorities to fulfil statutory responsibilities towards the homeless.

The figures also show that 20 households have avoided being classed as homeless because they have been rematched with other hosts.

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