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Ukrainian Refugees In The UK Face "Further Trauma" Without Support, Government Warned

Leading civil society groups have urged Truss to offer extra support to Ukrainian refugees (Alamy)

3 min read

Leading refugee and civil society groups have written to the Prime Minister to call for extra support for Ukrainian refugees amid concerns that the rising cost of living could make it challenging to settle in the UK.

In the letter, a coalition of organisations led by charity More in Common said Prime Minister Liz Truss needed to provide "renewed reassurance" to Ukrainian refugees and hosts that government support would continue. 

Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, for which Home Office and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has dual responsibility, asks British hosts to provide accommodation for a minimum six-month period in exchange for a £350-a-month payment aimed at helping offset an increase in household bills.

But there is concern over a "lack of clarity" on the future of the scheme and for how long support will be offered.

PoliticsHome reported on Wednesday that plans reported over the summer to double support payments to hosts had been shelved by the Treasury despite concerns that refugees coming to the end of the six month period could be left homeless.

Over 130,000 people have arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme since it launched in March following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

"While the UK government continues to lead in providing military assistance for Ukrainian forces on the front line, the letter calls for a renewed commitment to support those helping on the home front as well," the group wrote to the Prime Minister. 

Pointing to her conference speech in which Truss pledged continued support for Ukraine, the group urged her to expand support for refugees who had arrived in the UK.

Luke Tryl, UK director of campaign group More in Common, which is part of the coalition, said: "As part of her bold commitment to stand by Ukraine and its people, the Prime Minister should now ensure that hosts and families receive the clarity and extra support they need to feel safe and secure during the coming winter and the year ahead."

Writing for The House, Tryl pressed the government to reconsider financial support for hosts, saying that "in particular, as the rising cost of living continues to bite, the Government needs to reconsider whether the £350 monthly payments to hosts are sufficient to support".

He added: "Many host families we have spoken to have told us they are keen to continue supporting the Ukrainian families in their care, but the current level of financial support is making it increasingly difficult to house an extra person."

The group said that alongside additional financial help, they wanted further support for Ukrainian families to find homes to rent or buy, echoing calls from council leaders who said earlier this year that additional action was needed to help refugees find more permanent accommodation.

They would also like to see the appointment of a new dedicated refugees minister following the resignation of Lord Harrington earlier this year.

PoliticsHome has reported that there is confusion in government over who was leading on the wider scheme, after it was announced that Conservative MP Andrew Pendle was responsible for the housing element of support.

Lesia Scholey, who hosts a Ukrainian family and volunteers with ECAN refugee charity in Surrey, said the lack of support was causing "much grief".

"Since the day they arrived seeking refuge and safety in the UK, Ukrainian families, many of whom are mothers and young children, have been asking what will happen to them when a hosting agreement comes to an end," she said. 

"To see many now facing homelessness, due to a lack of clear mechanisms for housing, is causing much grief. The UK government must introduce a long-term plan for those on three-year visas and be part of the solution, not further trauma for displaced persons."

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