At least 660 Ukrainian families have been left homeless in England after arriving on visas designed to secure them a place to live following the Russian invasion, official figures have shown.
Since the end of February, at least 480 Ukrainian families with children and 180 single adults have applied to councils for help with homelessness.
They were left without a place to live after the relationship or accommodation arrangement with their UK hosts broke down, or the British home was judged unsuitable.
Two-thirds of those made homeless were on the Government’s family scheme where they had a relative in the UK. The remainder were on the Homes for Ukraine program, where they were due to have been hosted by British families.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “It is worrying to hear that desperate Ukrainian families who have fled war, endured trauma and heartbreak, arriving here entrusting their safety in our hands have been left to fall into homelessness.
“Ukrainian families arriving here need a warm welcome, safe housing and benefits, emotional support and connection. We’re concerned that Ukrainians arriving on family visas are running into problems, as not all relatives will have the space or the resources to support their family members. ”
‘Urgent’ need to rehome refugees
About 77,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK, out of 130,000 issued with visas for both the family and Homes for Ukraine scheme.
The schemes were initially plagued with delays, bureaucratic complexities in the issuing of visas and fears about potential exploitation of refugees by traffickers and British criminals.
Of the 145 placements on the Homes for Ukraine scheme, 90 ended because the arrangement broke down and a further 55 never got off the ground properly because the accommodation was unavailable or deemed unsuitable upon arrival.
David Renard, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said councils were concerned because they received no data on, or funding for, people made homeless under the family visa scheme.
“Some of those families present as homeless once they have arrived, but we are asking that they should be able to be rematched with a sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine scheme,” he said.
“Urgent work is needed on how councils can work with government and the community, faith and voluntary sector so those offering their homes can be quickly matched with a family in need.”
Councils ‘have a duty of care’
Of the 145 failed Homes for Ukraine placements, only 20 were rematched with a new host.
Lauren Scott, executive director of Refugees at Home, said: “We urgently need a joined-up national fallback plan to help families whose placements go wrong.”
A government spokesman said: “More than 77,200 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK since Putin’s invasion and all arrivals have access to benefits and public services, as well as the right to work or study, from the day they arrive.
“The overwhelming majority of people are settling in well, but in the minority of cases where family or sponsor relationships break down, councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their head. Councils also have access to a rematching service to find a new sponsor in cases under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. ”