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Debate on the potential merits of extending the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, House of Commons, 6 February 2024

Local authorities have been at the forefront of the Ukraine response and have stepped up fast-paced support. The LGA would like to work with the Government to review and confirm the funding needed to meet the short- and long-term needs of all Ukrainian arrivals and those opening their homes to them, regardless of their route to the UK.

Key messages

  • 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. Local authorities have been at the forefront of the Ukraine response and have stepped up fast-paced holistic integration support, working closely with the Government, health partners, the voluntary and community sector and other key partners. 
  • The LGA would like to work with the Government to review and confirm the funding needed to meet the short- and long-term needs of all Ukrainian arrivals and those opening their homes to them, regardless of their route to the UK.
  • Having secure and permanent housing is key to enabling Ukrainians to properly integrate and feel settled. However, there are considerable housing pressures that present barriers to this, with serious challenges identifying affordable accommodation across the UK. 105,000 households, including nearly 140,00 children, are currently living in temporary accommodation; the highest number since records began.


  • Supporting arrivals from Ukraine required a redesign of council services at pace and at scale to ensure the vital host arrangements are safe and supported. There are currently nearly 200,000 visa holders in the UK schemes.
  • The LGA welcomed close and extensive engagement between councils and the Government on programme development to ensure support for new arrivals and their hosts from Ukraine. The close and regular oversight at political level and governance that brought together central and local government and the community and voluntary sector were particularly welcomed.
  • The arrangements for engagement specifically on Ukraine have now ended, though regular engagement with the Government across asylum and resettlement at an official level remains. We would be keen to meet to discuss some of the current and future issues and risks highlighted below.
  • This needs to form part of ongoing joint work and joint engagement across local and central government – especially since as well as supporting Ukrainians, councils are providing support to other refugee populations and asylum seekers.
  • We have welcomed the Government beginning to work to join-up its approaches across the various schemes as part of a place-based approach that takes account of pressures across different refugee schemes and asylum. We would welcome further detail on how those cumulative pressures will be managed more effectively when placing people in local areas and how areas facing unsustainable pressures will have those reduced.


  • There are just under 142,000 people across the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. Whilst the funding for Homes for Ukraine arrivals to support the delivery of all the above was welcomed, councils have expressed concerns once funding for arrivals after 1 January 2023 reduced from £10,500 to £5,900 per person. In addition, there is no funding for councils beyond the first year of the scheme even though new arrivals receive a three-year visa. This is also unlike the £20,520 provided over three or five years for arrivals under the Afghan resettlement schemes and the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), even though Ukrainian arrivals will have the same long-term integration needs. 
  • There are currently just under 57,000 people in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme but there is no equivalent local authority tariff provided under the Ukraine Family Visa scheme or the Ukraine Extension scheme. Also, there are no thank you payments for family members hosting their family under the Ukraine Family Visa scheme. Arrivals from the Family Visa scheme will have similar needs to arrivals under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and Family Visa hosts will face similar pressures as Homes for Ukraine hosts. 
  • We have however appreciated the decision not to reduce the local authority tariff for unaccompanied Ukrainian minors, and the recent announcement of additional funding for unaccompanied Ukrainian minors in year two.

Housing and homelessness

  • Councils need a joined-up approach and long-term funding across government to ensure there is support and accommodation in place for all groups of new arrivals and all those with housing needs. There needs to be urgent solutions to pressing housing challenges in the short- and the long-term across all the schemes that welcome new arrivals to the UK.
  • Councils have been able to use the local authority tariff flexibly to help Ukrainians access housing, which has included paying deposits, the first month’s rent, providing furniture, covering move on costs, incentive payments to landlords, supporting crowdfunding arrangements and top-up payments to sponsors to prevent homelessness in the first place. Local authorities continue to innovate and share best practice on accessing housing and wider integration support which have gone some way to address these issues. 
  • Councils are doing all they can to help those owed homelessness duties, evidenced by the fact that nearly 5,000 Ukrainian households that presented as homeless have since been offered settled accommodation. National research indicated around one in 10 adults (13 per cent) reported that they had changed address as they had been rehoused into temporary accommodation provided by the council. 
  • There are however serious concerns about increased Ukrainian homelessness presentations, including as sponsorship arrangements under the Homes for Ukraine scheme continue to break down. Current data from the Government shows that a total of just under 8,900 Ukrainian households have presented as homeless across England. Councils are particularly concerned that this resulted in 870 Ukrainian households in temporary accommodation. National research shows that only about a third (34 per cent) of Ukrainian adults have changed address since coming to the UK, most commonly because they can now afford to live in their own accommodation without being hosted.
  • This data also indicates that 640 households arriving via the Family Visa scheme have presented as homeless after they found that their accommodation was not suitable or available on arrival. 1,200 Family Visa scheme households have had their accommodation arrangements break down and have subsequently presented as homeless to local authorities, without councils receiving for councils for that any support provided.
  • Councils have welcomed the introduction of the Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) as a recognition of the housing supply issues. Round one provided £500 million of funding for local authorities to apply for to match fund accommodation for families with housing needs who have arrived in the UK via Ukrainian and Afghan resettlement and relocation schemes. 
  • Future funding should build on this innovative capital fund that will both relieve current pressures and also provide a lasting affordable housing asset that could be put to general use, reducing potential cohesion risks of targeting housing at new arrivals.
  • We have also welcomed the additional £150 million homelessness prevention fund to be used flexibly and according to local need as part of the existing Homelessness Prevention Grant. However, local authorities only received allocations for this fund in August 2023 with the money to be spent in this financial year
  • In March 2023, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that authorities receiving Homes for Ukraine funding could apply to receive an allocation from a £150 million European Structural Investment Fund. The 127 councils in England that applied were informed at the beginning of November 2023 that the funding had been withdrawn as DWP identified a way to increase the maximum value of the funding available from the European Commission. A new £120 million fund was announced in the Autumn Statement which we understand aims to replace this funding. The split between funding for England and the devolved administrations is still to be confirmed. We understand this further funding will be distributed via the Homelessness Prevention Grant and we are keen to work with the Government to ensure councils are provided with more certainty on their allocations, particularly as councils’ budget setting process for the next financial year has already started.

Support for sponsors

  • Councils remain keen to help support the sponsor relationship. The ongoing conflict will mean a higher demand for long-term hosting than anyone planned for at the start of the scheme. The confirmation in the Autumn Statement on the third year thank you payments for hosts and the previous increase in thank you payment from £350 to £500 for long-term hosts supporting Ukrainians that have been in the UK for more than 12 months is therefore welcome. 
  • We remain keen to work with Government encourage new sponsors to step forward. With cost of living pressures continuing, it is also imperative that the thank you payment to new or rematched sponsors is also increased in order to increase the pool of new sponsors, support rematching, and to prevent further escalation of homelessness. 
  • Councils continue to work hard with local partners to deliver the schemes in line with local circumstances and the needs of guests and hosts, including some councils increasing the thank you payment in response to the needs of hosts in their areas. 
  • It would also be helpful to explore how the incredible offers to host new arrivals could be expanded to other schemes safely in order to reduce pressures in other asylum and resettlement schemes, such as offers of supported lodgings for lone children.

Supporting integration, wellbeing, and cohesion

  • Local authorities are responsible for arranging wellbeing checks on Homes for Ukraine scheme arrivals, which has helped identify Ukrainians’ needs and ensure appropriate support referrals. Councils have been providing a range of services and support including:
    • safeguarding and accommodation checks 
    • wellbeing checks for arrivals
    • welcome arrangements
    • supporting Ukrainians to understand their status and entitlements including benefits
    • GP registrations
    • setting up bank accounts
    • housing and homelessness support
    • supporting children into school and with additional educational needs
    • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) access
    • employment support
    • wider community engagement and integration support.
  • Councils also have a key role in building cohesion across all local communities, helping to build a sense of belonging for all, facilitating opportunities for those from different backgrounds to form relationships with others, and in responding to cohesion challenges and community tensions where they arise. 
  • The Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) ongoing research on experiences of Ukrainians shows a clear need, going forward, to focus on access to housing, employment and language support, which very much reflects what we are hearing from councils locally in terms of needs.
  • A collaborative effort from a wide range of council and local services continues to take place, including support for hosts, housing and homelessness, health and mental health support, support for English language, childcare and job advice and access. Many local authorities also have regular drop-in events and support hubs open to Ukrainian arrivals and other refugees, helping to further address their needs.
  • Employment and language support are key pillars for integration. According to ONS data, Ukrainian employment levels have improved in the UK, rising to 52 per cent. However, some key issues regarding employment including converting Ukrainian qualifications for work in the UK, accommodating for childcare needs of Ukrainians and helping Ukrainians find employment that matches their skillset, remain a challenge. ONS data also shows how over half (58 per cent) of adults work in a different sector in the UK, compared with the sector in which they were working in Ukraine, demonstrating the mismatch of skills and opportunities.
  • Half of adult arrivals have used English language courses, with the majority reporting satisfaction with the support, but 23 per cent reported they did not know how to access the service. Local authorities have also highlighted that Ukrainians have raised that barriers to accessing language support can include waiting times for ESOL classes and not finding classes that provide the right level of English for certain jobs/sectors with skill shortages. It is vital for Ukrainians to have appropriate ESOL provision that helps unlock their talent to get on in life and work. The New STEP Ukraine programme is providing intensive ESOL and employment support to 10,000 Ukrainians, although, there are still challenges around employment and English language support that should be worked through with local authorities.
  • A significant concern amongst councils is the mental health of Ukrainians. Councils have reported long waiting times for mental health support, and sometimes a lack of Ukrainian language and culturally appropriate mental health support. There is also a need for trauma informed support across services, particularly as some Ukrainians may not recognise the impacts of their trauma or struggle to address the topic. There is also a growing concern about the impact of trauma on Ukrainian children. Some local authorities have worked closely with the NHS, voluntary and community sector and schools to implement trauma informed screening (as a preventative and proactive measure) and step-up wellbeing support for children, but the gaps in mental health provision mentioned above are also prevalent for children.
  • Some examples of practice from councils can be found on our website including support work in Braintree and Cambridgeshire; examples of working with the community and voluntary sector and joined up ways to deliver home and safety checks

Visa issues

  • Local authorities also do not receive data on Family Visa scheme arrivals. Local authorities therefore cannot identify arrivals under the Family scheme and the Extension scheme, unless they present themselves to the local authority, even though they may be in need of signposting to crucial support. We would welcome conversations with the Government around how to capture data on the other Ukraine scheme arrivals on Foundry (the data platform used for Homes for Ukraine) so there can be collective oversight of numbers and needs.
  • Arrivals from Ukraine receive three-year visas and as the end of the current visa period draws closer, we are keen to work with Government on providing certainty on the future of the current visa schemes. Local authorities have raised a number of concerns and challenges resulting from the current lack of information on what could happen to peoples’ status including: 
    • The impact this uncertainty could have on the mental health of Ukrainians who have already experienced significant trauma, and their ability to fully integrate.
    • Some Ukrainian visa scheme arrivals considering putting in a claim for asylum or applying for a work visa (even though the latter could mean that they have no recourse to public funds and have to pay the health surcharge and visa extensions). There have been reports of some organisations/legal representatives charging significant fees for Ukrainians to get on to resettlement routes.
    • Uncertainty for families and young people about how they will be able to progress with their education and sit exams. 
    • Some landlords are only offering 24-month tenancies which prohibits a considerable number of Ukrainians with two years or less left on their visas from accessing accommodation. 
  • We are also keen to work with the Government on potential changes in timelines and checks in the visa process as councils have also reported that the Homes for Ukraine visa allocations process continues to present challenges, including for example: 
    • Local authorities continue to report cases where visas are being issued to Ukrainians before local authority checks have been completed or after local authority checks have failed the sponsor for safeguarding reasons or accommodation concerns. There is a risk that Ukrainians will then travel over to live in unsuitable and potentially unsafe sponsorship arrangements.
    • Local authorities have also expressed concern about cases where the Government alerts them of a serious safeguarding issue regarding a Homes for Ukraine sponsor/host after Ukrainian guests have already been living with that sponsor/host for a while, without sharing the details of the issue – which means there is little the local authority can do to address the situation. 
    • Councils have to deal with multiple fraudulent Homes for Ukraine cases. For instance, cases where a sponsor’s details have been used on a Homes for Ukraine application without that sponsor’s consent. There have also been cases where multiple Ukrainians are sponsored by one sponsor (beyond what someone could accommodate).
  • The Government did consult local authorities around additional checks in the process for unaccompanied Ukrainian minors arriving on the Homes for Ukraine scheme which has helped to safeguard Ukrainian children. 
  • As the National Audit Office report highlighted, the profile of Ukrainian people arriving to the UK under the scheme is largely women and children, with 66 per cent of all arrivals female and 30 per cent of all arrivals aged under 18 as of 30 June 2023.  Women and children may be more vulnerable to exploitation or abuse, and Government should work closely with local authorities to address their safeguarding concerns regarding the visa allocation process and local checks.


Arian Nemati, Public Affairs and Campaigns Adviser
[email protected]
07799 038403