England’s counties have seen almost 48,000 Ukrainian refugees arrive in their areas as part of the government’s sponsorship programme since March last year, which is 56% of the country’s entire total.
A year to the day when Homes for Ukraine was launched, council leaders have paid tribute to the ‘phenomenal’ efforts of the thousands of county residents who have opened up their homes to host refugees.
To mark the anniversary, CCN’s new County Spotlight publication showcases how our councils have welcomed and helped thousands of refugees integrate in rural and county areas. Download the document here.
But councils are concerned that cuts to funding for Ukrainian refugees, with local authorities receiving almost half of what they did last year, could impact on their ability to support and integrate guests. In December the government announced per-head funding for councils would reduce from £10,500 to £5,900, with county local authorities are at the sharp end of this, having seen the most refugees resettle in their areas.
The data, compiled by the County Councils Network (CCN), also shows what regions have accommodated the most Ukrainian refugees, twelve months into the programme:
The data is featured in a new County Spotlight report from CCN, which showcases how its councils have helped to support hosts, including offering them substantial ‘thank you’ payments. The publication also highlights how they have helped Ukrainians integrate in their areas, including offering free public transport, language courses, and playschemes for young children.
It also highlights how councils have tried to incentivise people to stay hosts for longer than the initial six month period households are required to commit to, or to encourage more people coming forward, by topping up the government’s thank you payments above the £500 maximum per month.
But despite these efforts, alongside prominent ‘rematching’ schemes and programmes to purchase private property, councils remain concerned over the rise in refugees presenting as homeless – with the numbers increasing by 40% at the end of January compared to November last year.
The government announced a £150m fund to combat Ukrainian homelessness in December, but further details are yet to emerge.
Cllr Barry Lewis, Vice-Chair of the County Councils Network, said
“It has been twelve months since the Homes for Ukraine programme launched, and we as a country can be proud of our achievements in taking in close to 90,000 refugees since last March. The response from households has been phenomenal, particularly in England’s county and rural areas where the majority of new arrivals have settled.
“Much of the focus of the Homes for Ukraine programme has rightly been on the public’s enthusiasm for the scheme. But alongside the generosity of residents, local government has been the vital cog in enabling refugees to come to England, with many having to adapt their services overnight to account for the huge demand and safety checks required.
“The twelve-month mark for the programme allows us to reflect on its challenges, too. We are sadly seeing a large rise in Ukrainian refugees presenting as homeless despite the best efforts of councils to incentivise hosts and rematch guests. But we are concerned too many are falling through the cracks, which is why the County Councils Network is joining the Local Government Association’s call for urgent solutions, including access to the government’s bespoke £150m homelessness fund as soon as possible.
“We are also concerned that the core funding for refugees has been reduced this year. This could impact on the effectiveness of councils in integrating these guests and supporting them as they rebuild their lives, with county areas arguably most affected as they have hosted more Ukrainians. We are calling on the government to keep this funding under review.”
Notes to editor
Sponsor location by council type
|Council type||Number of arrivals by sponsor location||Percentage of England’s total|
|County and rural councils (CCN councils)||47,898||56%|
|Councils in London||16,757||20%|
|Unitary councils outside of CCN||12,321||14%|
|Councils in cities and large towns in North East and West Midlands (Metropolitan Boroughs)||8,861||10%|
Sponsor location by region
|Region||Number of sponsored arrivals from Ukraine||% of arrivals in county and rural areas within those regions|
|East of England||10,184||90%|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||5,476||30%|