As the initial six-month hosting period of the Homes for Ukraine scheme comes to an end for many guests and hosts, they must consider what comes next. This research briefing looks at the different options Ukrainian guests have, including continuing a sponsorship or seeking privately rented accommodation, as well as some of the challenges they face.
What is the Homes for Ukraine scheme?
The Homes for Ukraine scheme (formally known as the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme) allows individuals in the UK to sponsor a named Ukrainian national or family to come to live in the UK with them, providing they have suitable accommodation to offer. Under the scheme, launched in March 2022, UK-based sponsors commit to providing accommodation for at least six months after the arrival of their Ukrainian guests.
The scheme has enabled over 110,000 Ukrainians to arrive in the UK, as of 2 January 2023.
Changes to the scheme
On 14th December 2022, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove announced to the Commons several updates to the scheme. Key changes included an extension in the duration of ‘thank you’ payments, as well as an increase in the minimum amount given to some hosts. A Local Housing Fund is being launched and changes are being made to reduce the funding provided to local councils for new Ukrainian arrivals from 1 January 2023.
What happens after six months?
If both parties are happy to extend the sponsorship beyond 6 months, the DLUHC guidance on your living arrangements four to six months after moving to the UK encourages guests to remain with their host until they are ready to move on.
The increased and extended ‘thank you’ payments have been introduced in recognition of the increased cost-of-living, and to incentivise continued sponsorship and rematching.
Finding a new host
Ukrainians who cannot stay with their sponsor past six months are advised to contact their local council as soon as possible. In some cases, the council will be able to help find a new host. Advice on how a guest may find a new host themselves and details of organisations who may be able to help find new hosts has been made available.
Moving into privately rented accommodation
Guests considering privately rented accommodation are being directed to guidance on their rights and responsibilities as tenants. Separate guidance for England, Scotland and Wales has been made available.
Ukrainians supported by the Homes for Ukraine scheme will be able to apply for housing costs support through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if they have a rental liability when they move on from the scheme.
Risk of homelessness
Guests are experiencing a number of challenges when entering the private rental market, which combined with the existing pressure on council services and the growing number of six-month sponsorships coming to an end, has led stakeholders to express concerns over the risk of homelessness. DLUHC data showed a nearly 40% increase in homelessness cases in England under the Homes for Ukraine scheme in November, from the previous month.
When a sponsorship arrangement has broken down or is not being continued after the initial six-month arrangement, and Ukrainian guests are unable to secure other alternative suitable accommodation, then council statutory homelessness duties will apply.
The new funds announced in the December 2022 update to the scheme seek to address some of these concerns, although stakeholders have raised doubts over the efficacy of the policy in light of the scale of the housing stock deficit.