The District Councils’ Network (DCN) welcomes the support package for Ukrainians in the UK announced by the Government this week.
The DCN is particularly pleased to see the Government has responded to the concerns we’ve raised about the number of host families indicating they wish to discontinue Homes for Ukraine placements, many of them as a result of financial concerns. The Government has acknowledged the generosity of the hosts within our communities by offering extended and increased monthly thank-you payments of £500.
It is right that we should reward the kindness of host families and, vitally, the extra money will also help to prevent many placements ending.
The DCN has also called for an emergency fund to prevent homelessness for Ukrainian arrivals and others suffering hardship in our communities. We therefore support today’s announcement of £150m fund to do this, as a measure to assist our overburdened housing teams in proactively supporting those at risk of homelessness.
The £500m Local Authority Housing Fund begins to address the challenge of finding long-term housing for those who need it. However, housing pressures are intensifying and although this is a positive first step, much more will be needed to provide sufficient affordable accommodation for all those who require it.
DCN notes that the council tariff has been reduced to £5,900 per person for Ukrainian arrivals entering the UK from 1 January 2023. This runs the risk of reducing the funding available housing teams carrying out crucial inspections of potential accommodation for arrivals, at a time when these services are immensely stretched.
We look forward to seeing the full detail on how the new funds are designed and allocated. It is vital that district councils – the housing authorities in shire England – are well placed to design the solutions appropriate to support people in our areas.
DCN Chairman, Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen said:
“We are pleased that the Government has listened to our concerns that there has been a significant risk to the support available to Ukrainians. These new measures will go a long way to relieving the pressure on our housing teams who’ve done sterling work to support those fleeing Putin’s illegal war.
“It’s also good to see the Government acknowledge that councils know their communities best by allowing us to allocate the £150m to prevent homelessness to those within our communities who we know are most on the brink of losing their home. Flexibility is vital as we use our local knowledge to do what we can to prevent hardship from increasing.
“The Local Authority Housing Fund is also welcome, though we need a larger-scale plan for increasing affordable accommodation than 4,000 homes. Already, 3,000 Ukrainians have already presented as homeless, and there are many from countries including Afghanistan and Syria who still need places to live, alongside longstanding members of our communities who are struggling to afford decent housing.
“It is our moral duty to support Ukrainians and refugees who are in our local areas – and this week’s announcement helps us do this. However, further support for asylum seekers and refugees is needed and we look forward to working with Government to improve the situation for all.”