Councils have a proud history of welcoming new arrivals, stepping forward at times of crisis to offer homes and support so families and individuals can build new lives in the UK.
- Councils have a proud history of welcoming new arrivals, stepping forward at times of crisis to offer homes and support so families and individuals can build new lives in the UK. The LGA welcomed close engagement with government and councils on the design of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, including lone children coming to the UK safely.
- Supporting arrivals from Ukraine required a redesign of council services at pace to ensure the vital host arrangements are safe and supported. It continues to involve a collaborative effort from a wide range of council and local services including support for hosts, housing and homelessness, health and mental health support, support for English language, childcare and job advice and access.
- Funding for independence and integration: funding for arrivals under the Homes for Ukraine scheme in 2023 has halved, with education funding ending in March 2023. There is no funding for beyond the first year and there is no funding at all available for the Ukraine Family Scheme. Previous resettlement schemes have shown integration and achieving independence via jobs, wellbeing and language support can be a longer term challenge for some new arrivals. Whilst councils are aware of the need for sustainable funding across government, if arrival numbers increase we would be keen to work with government to review funding levels given already overstretched council resources.
- Priorities: linked to the funding challenges above, research on experiences of Ukrainians shows a clear need to focus on access to housing, employment and language support going forward, which very much reflects what we are hearing from councils locally.
- Homelessness challenges: national data shows that rising numbers of Ukrainians are presenting to their councils as homeless. Councils will continue to do all they can to help those who are owed homelessness duties but the number of families in temporary accommodation is a growing concern. Further clarification on how the £150 million homelessness reduction funding announced in December can be used by councils is urgently needed. The £500 million for housing supply will assist in increasing housing supply but it does not come with revenue funding to help families access it.
- Support for hosts: Councils are also keen to help support the sponsor relationship and to encourage new sponsors to step forward to support rematching and new arrivals. The ongoing conflict will mean a higher demand for long-term hosting than anyone planned for at the start of the scheme, and we are keen to work with government on the implications for this. The increased thank you payment for long term hosts is therefore welcome. However, with inflation and energy costs increasing, it is imperative that support to existing, new or rematched sponsors is increased by the Government. Councils continue to work hard with local partners to deliver the schemes in line with local circumstances and the needs of guests and hosts. An example is some councils increasing the thank you payment in response to the needs of hosts in that area. Local leaders continue to meet with new arrivals and hosts to design the local response based on needs and cultural sensitivities.
- Cross programme approach: There needs to be urgent solutions to pressing housing needs in the short and the long term across all the schemes that welcome new arrivals to the UK. The impact around the challenges in finding affordable housing across the UK needs to be looked at, with local housing and private rental markets differing across the country. We have welcomed Government beginning to work to join up its approaches across the various schemes to take account of pressures brought on as a result of the different refugee schemes and asylum pressures when placing people in local areas. It would be helpful to explore how the incredible offers to host new arrivals could be expanded to other schemes safely, such as offers of supported lodgings for lone children.
As of 20 February 2023, Councils have helped 163,500 Ukrainians settle in the UK. This has included 47,800 arrivals via Ukraine Family Scheme and 115,800 arrivals via Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.
4295 Ukrainian households are owed a homelessness prevention or relief duty. 2985 of these are households with dependent children. 1,325 homeless households have come through the Family Scheme and 2,595 from Homes for Ukraine. 735 households are in temporary accommodation.
Experiences and needs of Ukrainians
- Almost half (45 per cent) of all respondents experienced barriers to accessing private rented accommodation; the most common barrier was not having a guarantor or references (59 per cent).
- Half of respondents (50 per cent) experienced difficulties taking up work in the UK; the main difficulties were English language skills not meeting job requirements (56 per cent) and qualifications not being recognised or valid in the UK (33 per cent).
- Around 60 per cent of visa holders reported having enough money to support themselves and their dependants for the next three months, which is a significant increase from 37 per cent in June 2022.
- Almost a third (32 per cent) of visa holders with pre-school-aged children reported that their child needed English language support but that this was unavailable; for those with school-aged children, this was 21 per cent.
Councils receive £5,900 per person for arrivals entering the UK from 1 January 2023, significantly less that the £10,500 tariff previously received as part of one year funding. The unringfenced funding is to still to cover:
- Welcoming, safeguarding and settling in
- Integration and work (alongside Department of Work and Pensions support)
- Long-term sustainable housing
- Reporting and data management
The year 1 tariff for eligible minors will continue at £10,500 for arrivals after 1 January 2023.
Local Authorities did receive separate funding for the Ukraine education tariff under the rates and terms previously set out (a per child tariff of £3,000 for early years, £6,580 for primary and £8,755 for secondary and payments calculated on a pro-rata basis). This will end at the end of April 2023, though language acquisition and integration needs in schools will continue.
In December, a £500 million Local Authority Housing Fund was announced and then allocated to183 councils in England, including the Greater London Authority. It aims to assist councils to buy housing stock, build new homes, convert existing non-residential properties, and refurbish delipidated housing or empty homes into accommodation for families. Councils have submitted bids against their allocations against the funding and should receive 30 per cent of the funding in February/March 2023. Year 2 allocation will be paid once a local authority has demonstrated that at least 60 per cent of the Year 1 allocation has been committed. The first milestone for this to occur is in May 2023.
Also announced was £150 million in additional funding for local authorities across the UK to help support Ukrainian guests move into their own homes and reduce the risk of homelessness, with allocation and focus still to be confirmed.
Councils still administer the thank you payment for hosts. This remains at £350 for new arrivals. Homes for Ukraine hosts receive an increased £500 a month as a ‘thank you’ for ongoing support after Ukrainian’s first year of sponsorship.
As above, the LGA is calling for a review of funding if arrival numbers increase and for the urgent clarification on how the £150 million can be spent given ongoing risks around housing access and homelessness risks.