Uncertainties and challenges for Ukrainian Refugees in the UK

In the last 9 months, lives have been changed by the war in Ukraine. For many in the UK, the most notable impact is rising food and energy prices. But for those living in Ukraine, the impact on ordinary families is brutal and devastating.

In response, some in the UK are volunteering to make space in their homes available to those fleeing the invasion of the country. This is supported by the UK Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. Hosts sponsor their guests’ visas. The scheme is a social policy response that to a substantial extent is implemented by local government services.

A statistical survey of hosts views, with results released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on December 16th, 2022, provides insight into the experiences of those who provide rooms and assistance in their own accommodation.

The vast majority (92%) provide rooms within their own household. About one third (32%) host a single guest, while another third host two guests (34%). The larger Ukrainian households arriving in the UK usually include dependent children, and over half of UK hosts (55%) report that one or more Ukrainian children are living with them.

The most likely form of assistance given by hosts for their guests is help accessing social and welfare services (91%). Seventy three percent provide transport and 66% provide help with finding employment.

Although the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme is designed to run for 6 months, it soon became apparent that the war was not going to end quickly and the survey shows that most hosts intend to make their accommodation available for up to 12 months, or longer. Nevertheless, for many hosts (52%), their Ukrainian guests decide to move on. Thirty seven percent provide help with settling to alternative accommodation in the local area. Eleven percent said their guess had returned to Ukraine. Uncertainty about the future is cited as the main challenge that hosts face (66%). Fifty nine percent would like to see more support with their guests’ administrative tasks.

Hosts widely reported concerns about the difficulty of helping their guests move into independent private accommodation, with many guests seeking this route finding that it was impossible to provide a financial ‘guarantor’ for the future landlord (64%).

As regards the social characteristics of the hosts, 67% are in full-time employment, and about half are aged 50 to 69 years (48%). Twenty four percent of hosts are located in the South-East of England.

The main motivation as to why hosts provide accommodation in their own homes is empathy for the plight of those fleeing a war zone (94%). Few hosts report that the availability of a £350 monthly payment is a significant motivator, although 99% do apply to their local authority for the payments.

Philip Haynes

Source: ONS (2022) Experiences of Homes for Ukraine scheme sponsors – follow-up, UK – Office for National Statistics

Sample size 8770, response rate 56%

Data collected between 21-28th November.