Homes For Ukraine Payments To Be Increased To £500 For Long-Term Hosts
The government have chosen to increase support for Ukrainian refugee hosts (Alamy)
Monthly government payments for households hosting refugees as part of the the Homes for Ukraine scheme will be increased, ministers have announced.
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove said the payments would rise from £350-a-month to £500 for those who had been hosting refugees for longer than a year after repeated warnings that further financial support was needed.
More than 104,000 Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which asked sponsors to house refugees for a minimum period of six months in return for the monthly payment to help offset their costs.
In a statement on Wednesday, Gove said the decision to increase the payments was in recognition of the "ongoing support" of hosts, and comes after warnings that the increase in the cost of living was making it harder for many to continue providing accommodation.
The uplift is smaller than that proposed by former refugee minister Lord Harrington, who had lobbied the Treasury to double the payment for all hosts who continued to accommodate refugees beyond the six-month period.
PoliticsHome reported earlier this year that the plans had been put on pause during Liz Truss's time in Downing Street despite pressure from some of her Treasury ministers to press ahead with the increase as part of efforts to avoid homelessness among Ukrainian refugees.
"We have stood firm with Ukraine but we owe special thanks to the tens of thousands of families across the UK who opened their homes and their hearts to Ukrainians fleeing war," Gove said.
"In recognition of their ongoing support, I’m pleased to confirm that they will see their ‘thank you’ payments uplifted for their second year of sponsorship."
Ministers also announced a new £500m Local Authority Housing Fund would be made available to councils to help find new housing for refugees, including those arriving from Afghanistan and other countries.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said the fund could be used to purchase existing housing stock or convert other properties, with an aim to deliver 4,000 new homes by 2024.
The decision to lift the payments follows a surge in the number of Ukrainian refugees presenting to councils as being at risk of homelessness, including a 40 per cent rise in November alone.
But the government confirmed that councils would see a significant reduction in the financial grants they currently receive for each Ukrainian who arrives in their area, with support being cut from £10,500 to £5,900.
The funding, which was given to support new arrivals, has been used by many councils to top up the monthly thank you payment in response to the warnings from hosts that financial pressures could limit their ability to continue accommodating Ukrainian refugees.
Krish Kandiah, director of The Sanctuary Foundation charity, which organised a joint letter last month from thousands of hosts to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for further support, said the increase would help ease "unforeseen financial pressures".
"The promise of more financial support for hosts is welcomed, as most households I am in touch with are delighted to be hosting Ukrainian refugees but the cost of living crisis has added unforeseen financial pressure on them," he said.
"The £500 million fund to invest in housing is a brilliant innovation that will help Ukrainians and Afghans fleeing conflict but also, importantly, local people at risk of homelessness."
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