50,000 Ukrainian refugees face homelessness in UK – media — Analysis

Despite activists’ pleas, it isn’t clear if increased payments to host family can solve the problem.

Some 50,000 Ukrainians could be homeless in the UK next year, as the government’s scheme to match refugees with British families breaks down, The Guardian reported on Sunday. The opposition calls for the government to increase payments to host families, as the price of living is on the rise. 

Analysis by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and children’s charity Barnardos found that, based on feedback from British hosts, between 15,000 and 21,000 Ukrainians could be homeless by the winter, rising to more than 50,000 by mid-2023, the newspaper reported.

To date, 83,900 refugees have arrived in the UK since March under the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, under which British households are paid £350 ($411) per month to house refugees for six months. However, as of earlier this month, 1,330 Ukrainian households in England – 385 single refugees and 945 families with children – have left the scheme and are now homeless.

The reason these matches failed is unknown, however campaigners have told The Guardian some host signed up excitedly without knowing why. “the implications and consequences of this sort of responsibility,” while others are finding that due to the rising cost of living in the UK, £350 per month is no longer sufficient to support new additions to the household.

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From September, most six-month sponsorship agreements will expire and a new wave of homelessness can be expected.

Lord Harrington, Minister of State for Refugees, has asked the Treasury for double-monthly payments to those who are able to host refugees for longer than six months. However, the Treasury has not indicated that they will follow his advice and Harrington is pleading for British families to sign up for the scheme. 

However, while some of the activists who spoke to The Guardian said the impending crisis could be averted with more financial support from the government, a majority of sponsors aren’t motivated by money. Recent government surveys show that just 25% quit the scheme within six months. And only four out of ten stated they would be more motivated to stay involved if they had more money.

The majority of respondents (58%) stated that they never intended to offer long-term accommodations. 

But visas were granted for three years to Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Britain through the scheme. “The government’s commitment was for three years, not six months, so there needs to be a longer-term game plan that doesn’t squander the goodwill of so many,”Kitty Hamilton, an activist for immigration reform, told The Guardian. “The implication was to give the government a chance to make more substantial plans and for the invasion to end. But nothing has happened.”

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