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More Ukrainian households homeless or at risk of homelessness after UK arrival

A ‘refugees welcome’ banner attached to a bicycle (Ben Birchall/PA)
A ‘refugees welcome’ banner attached to a bicycle (Ben Birchall/PA)

The number of Ukrainian households which have become homeless or at risk of becoming so after arriving in England has doubled in just under two months, figures show.

More than 1,300 Ukrainian single households and families were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness between February 24 and July 29, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said.

This is up from 660 households as of June 3.

The figures cover arrivals under the Family scheme and the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme who have been or are currently owed a statutory homelessness duty by local authorities in England.

Almost a quarter of local councils (74) did not respond to the survey, so the figures do not reflect the scale of homelessness across the country.

Under the Family scheme, Ukrainians can join family members already in the UK, while Ukrainians without relatives living in the UK can be sponsored by a UK host who is asked to provide accommodation for at least six months.

But hundreds of arrangements with family members or hosts have broken down, or accommodation has been unsuitable or unavailable.

Of those made homeless or threatened with homelessness, the majority (71%) were families with dependant children.

Some 695 had arrived under the Family scheme, with 370 owed a duty due to arrangements breaking down and 325 because accommodation was not available or suitable.

And 635 households had come to the UK after being sponsored.

This includes 425 due to arrangements breaking down, 95 whose accommodation was not available or suitable, 10 who rejected their sponsor’s offer and 105 who gave a different reason, or whose reason was not known.

The figures show that 90 households had their homelessness relieved or prevented through mediation, 90 through being rematched, and 190 due to a reason that was given as “other”.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned homelessness could rise as initial six-month placements with hosts end.

Councillor James Jamieson, LGA chairman, said: “Councils, sponsors and Ukrainian guests all need to know what the options are as we get closer to the end of the six-month initial placements period so they can start planning now.

“There is a significant risk that – even if rematching is available – many Ukrainian families may need to present as homeless because of a lack of sponsors or other options.

“Urgent joint work is needed both to be clearer to hosts and their guests about the challenges in finding affordable housing across the UK, and to seek solutions to the pressing housing needs in the short and the long term.”