Monthly Homes For Ukraine Payments Could Be Doubled To Stop Refugees Becoming Homeless
Further payments could be offered to hosts if they extending their support to Ukrainian refugees (Alamy)
Exclusive: The government is considering doubling the £350 monthly payments to UK refugee hosts to encourage them to keep Ukrainian guests in their homes for longer.
Over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in the UK under the government's flagship Homes for Ukraine scheme, which asked British hosts to provide accomodation for a minimum six month period in exchange for a £350-a-month payment aimed at helping offset an increase in household bills.
But a source close to the scheme told PoliticsHome that growing concerns about the risk of homelessness has prompted plans to increase the payments if they agree to extend their sponsorship of Ukrainian refugees.
It is understood the Treasury has now been presented with proposals to double the monthly payment to £700 for all hosts willing to extend beyond the six month mark in an effort to stop refugees having to be found new sponsors, or potentially being left homeless.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that nearly a quarter of all hosts were planning to end their sponsorships at the six month mark, with many citing the increasing cost-of-living as a factor for their decision.
No decision has been reached on whether the enhanced payments will go ahead, but a source close to the scheme said they hoped sign-off could come within weeks to ensure hosts whose refugee guests arrived in the first weeks of the scheme could benefit.
Another source present at a meeting between refugee minister Lord Harrington and MPs earlier this week said the proposals had been put forward to Treasury ministers "not on moral grounds, purely on financial grounds", claiming the uplift in the monthly payment would cost significantly less than re-homing refugees forced to present as homeless.
MPs were told that letters were already being sent to households who previously expressed interest in the scheme to gauge whether they were still willing to sponsor families, while an advertising campaign was being considered to find new hosts.
One host, who runs a support group for British sponsors, told PoliticsHome the payment would be a "band-aid" to stop an immediate rise in homelessness, but warned further steps would be needed to help refugees find permanent accommodation.
Local council leaders have said they are increasingly concerned about accomodating refugees who were asked to leave their host's properties after six months, with some having already written to the government to request further support to help refugees get access to private rented accomodation.
Lord Harrington and Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko have started sending out letter to hosts approaching the end of their six month period, to thank them for taking part in the scheme and encourage them to continue providing support to refugee families.
"Your guests and their fellow Ukrainians across Europe continue to feel the impacts of this war. We know that this has not always been easy for you. Welcoming people into your home and supporting people to settle into life in a new country is hard," they wrote
"Sadly, this war is carrying on longer than any of us had hoped. We have passed the fifth month of full-scale Russian aggression; millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes and hundreds continue to perish each day. Although 2.5 million Ukrainians have already returned home, some have no place to go as their homes have been destroyed and their cities being relentlessly bombarded.
"That is why the continued support from people like you is part of a significant international response supporting Ukraine and its people."
The Treasury has been approached for comment.
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