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Homes for Ukraine scheme: Everything you need to know if you are thinking hosting Ukrainian refugee


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More than 122,000 Britons are already preparing to open their homes to Ukrainian families, since the launch of the Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme on Monday.

Several of our readers raised concerns about the scheme when we asked what they thought of it, and issues such as safety, how it will affect any benefits people are on, or how families will be able to communicate with refugees once they arrive.

The UK government will not put a limit on how many people can join the scheme. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA
The UK government will not put a limit on how many people can join the scheme. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA

Despite the hopes of a possible peace deal between both nations earlier today which now looks like it's off the cards, almost three million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.

The Homes for Ukraine website crashed after going live on Monday afternoon, as 10,000 of people were trying to sign up each hour.

Even though the public response has been overwhelmingly positive, Bridget Chapman, from Kent Refugee Action Network, is concerned about the overall approach of the scheme.

She said: "We shouldn’t be asking desperate people who have fled their homes under traumatic circumstances to apply for visas.

"While we applaud the generosity and kindness of the many people in the UK willing to open up their homes to those in need, we feel strongly that, yet again, the public is picking up the slack for what should be a government responsibility."

So we thought we'd put together a handy guide answering some of the questions readers raised about the scheme...

Almost 10,000 people signed up to the scheme every hour. Picture: PA News
Almost 10,000 people signed up to the scheme every hour. Picture: PA News

Who can be a sponsor and who can come into my home?

Anyone with a room or home available can offer it to a Ukrainian individual or a family, though those offering homes will be vetted and Ukrainian applicants will undergo security checks.

Hosts can be of any nationality and any immigration status as long as they have permission to be in the UK for at least six months.

Ukrainians will also be granted three years’ leave to remain in the UK, with entitlement to work and access public services.

More than three million Ukrainians have fled the country since the start of the invasion. Picture: Vadim Ghirda/AP
More than three million Ukrainians have fled the country since the start of the invasion. Picture: Vadim Ghirda/AP

Will any security checks be carried out?

Officials have confirmed sponsors and all adults in their households will need to submit to security checks and possibly also safeguarding checks.

The suitability of the accommodation may also be assessed by their local council.

Ukrainians will be subject to "standard" security checks, according to the programme's website, with biometric checks made after they arrive in the UK to avoid delays.

Communities Secretary Michael Gove told Sky News: "We absolutely do need to make sure, first of all, that the people in Ukraine are who they say they are, so there need to be some security checks there.

"There’s been understandable concern about the scheme being exploited possibly by criminal elements. So, that’s the first thing."

Hosts and refugees will go through security checks. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA
Hosts and refugees will go through security checks. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

Will I get any compensation for hosting - and what can I use it for?

Those offering a place to stay will receive an optional tax-free monthly payment of £350 as a "thank you" from the government.

The compensation will be limited to one residential address, and hosts should not charge any rent.

The money can be spent or saved as you wish.

Ukrainians will be granted three years’ leave to remain in the UK. Picture: Visar Kryeziu/AP/PA
Ukrainians will be granted three years’ leave to remain in the UK. Picture: Visar Kryeziu/AP/PA

Do I need to provide anything other than accommodation?

When we asked what KentOnline readers thought of the scheme, Jayde Mayhew worried many families won't be able to offer help, due to the costs hosting a refugee can entail.

She wrote: "I can barely afford rent to pay for minimal space as it is. I just don't think the majority of people could really do this over a long period of time."

However, officials have said hosts are not expected to cover the costs of food or living expenses, unless they wish to do so.

The government has said there will be additional cash for local authorities and councils will be entitled to more than £10,000 per Ukrainian refugee staying in their area using the scheme, so they can access services.

Additional payments will also be available to support school-aged children who need to be accommodated within the education system.

Families and individuals will be able to find shelter in UK homes. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA
Families and individuals will be able to find shelter in UK homes. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA

Will the compensation affect my benefits or universal credit?

The government's Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the monthly payments should not affect any benefit entitlement.

Officials also confirmed the department will legislate if necessary.

More than 122,000 people have signed up for the scheme. Picture: Keith Heppell
More than 122,000 people have signed up for the scheme. Picture: Keith Heppell

Will my council tax - and discount - be affected if I host refugees?

If you're the only adult in your home, you are eligible to get a 25% discount on your council tax bill.

A spokesman for the department has confirmed the £350 compensation should not affect any host's council tax status or discount.

Anyone with a room or home available can offer it to a Ukrainian individual or a family. Picture: Rick Findler/PA
Anyone with a room or home available can offer it to a Ukrainian individual or a family. Picture: Rick Findler/PA

Will my bills get higher now that I have more people living with me?

House bills could get higher as consumption is likely to increase.

Officials have acknowledged the extra costs associated with helping out, and it is hoped the monthly compensation can ease the weight of expenses.

Hosts do not need to offer more than accommodation, unless they wish to do so philanthropically. Picture: Mark Williamson
Hosts do not need to offer more than accommodation, unless they wish to do so philanthropically. Picture: Mark Williamson

What happens if I have problems with my refugee?

In the event that there is a breakdown in the sponsorship agreement, the department will ask local authorities to seek a new sponsor where possible, within the first six month.

A government source has previously said that if there was a breakdown between the family and the refugee, the visitor could possible then become funded by the taxpayer.

The Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme website crashed shortly after going live
The Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme website crashed shortly after going live

Would I breach my tenancy agreement if I host refugees?

People who privately rent should check with their landlord as some tenancy agreements don't allow lodgers.

A spokesman for the DLUHC said: "If you are a tenant of a privately rented property, you can offer part of your home if you have suitable spare room available.

"You should first discuss with your landlord. You will usually need written agreement from your landlord as many contracts have a term that prohibits lodgers."

The same process applies to anyone in council accommodation - tenants should speak to their local council before joining the scheme.

Hosts can receive a £350 "thank you" payment from the government every month. Picture: Keith Heppell
Hosts can receive a £350 "thank you" payment from the government every month. Picture: Keith Heppell

What if my refugee doesn't speak English - will there be any provisions?

This issue was raised by many of our readers, such as Madeline Newson, who said: "Imagine how scary it will be for these people, in a strange country, a stranger's home and possibly unable to communicate?"

The government said there are no current measures in place to tackle communication issues.

However, it will be working alongside local councils and the Local Government Association (LGA) over the coming days and weeks, so this could change.

You can register your interest in housing a Ukrainian refugee here.

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