Homes for Ukraine Scheme – what you need to know
The Government launched the Homes for Ukraine scheme this week and more than 130,000 people have already signed up to offer accommodation to those fleeing the war-torn country. Read on to find out more about the scheme and how to sign up.
What is the Homes for Ukraine scheme?
Homes for Ukraine is a sponsorship scheme that allows people and organisations in the UK to offer Ukrainians fleeing the war a home. This scheme lets individuals, charities, community groups and businesses offer a route to safety for Ukrainians, even if they have no ties to the UK. Previously only Ukrainians with family already settled in the UK could come.
And the Government says there will be no limit on how many people can use this scheme and that ‘the UK will welcome as many Ukrainians, with their immediate family members, as wish to come and for whom there are sponsors.’
How to take part in Homes for Ukraine
You’ll need to either provide a spare room in your home or separate self-contained accommodation for at least six months. It will need to be fit for people to live in and be suitable for the number of people to be housed.
Your council will check that the accommodation you’re offering is appropriate. And as a sponsor you and your household will be subject to security checks and possibly safeguarding checks too. Those arriving from the UKraine will have met standard security checks.
You can’t charge rent but sponsors using the scheme will be offered a ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month from government. This is limited to one payment per residential address and will be paid for the duration of time you’re a sponsor for up to 12 months.
You won’t be expected to provide meals or pay for living expences although there’s nothing stopping you if you wish.
How do I apply to Homes for Ukraine?
There’s a short form on Homes for Ukraine. And you’ll be kept updated after recording your interest.
If you have a named person who you wish to sponsor you should contact them directly and prepare to fill in a visa application with all their details and yours. The visa application route will go live on Friday 18 March.
However if you wish to sponsor someone but don’t know anyone, the Homes For Ukraine scheme recommends you to get in touch with charities, faith groups or local community organisations who are starting to make connections between individuals.
If you’re not sure where to start, charities that could help you connect with someone include:
Refugees at Home
Room for Refugees
Who can be a sponsor?
Sponsors can be anyone in the UK (of any nationality and any immigration status providing they have at least six months leave to remain in the UK) with a spare room, or separate unoccupied self-contained accommodation.
And someone is eligible for the scheme if they are a Ukrainian national or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national, and were resident in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022.
And those arriving under this scheme will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years and access healthcare, benefits, employment support, education, and English language tuition.
If I want to sign up, what else do I need to consider?
When we see the horrendous scenes coming from Ukraine it’s no surprise this scheme has already had so much support. But there is a lot to think about before committing, including:
Can you commit for more than 6 months? While the Government has asked those signing up to the scheme to host for six months at least, it is unclear what will happen then. There is no indication things will be better in Ukraine by then. And it is unlikely that your guests will have found a job and saved enough for private rent in that time. Six months is likely to be the minimum, so be prepared for a longer term commitment.
Can you offer wider support? While the scheme is pitched as a room in your home and suggests you won’t need to provide any meals or other support, think about how that would work in reality. The person or family you’re sponsoring is fleeing war and will be vulnerable. As well as making them feel welcome, and being sensitive to their situation, would you be able to offer your time to help them settling in, accessing local services and integrating into the local community?
The links above to Refugees at Home and Room for Refugees offer some useful, practical advice for hosts.
How do I get my house ready?
If you have a spare room or other space you can offer, then think about how your day-to-day life will work. Just as when you take in a lodger, you’ll want to think about how to offer everyone privacy and establish ground rules. For example, can they help themselves to food? Will you all eat dinner together? What about washing clothes and changing sheets?
If you’re a homeowner with a mortgage you may be wondering if you’ll need to contact your lender and inform them if you want to take part in the scheme. Skipton Building Society has already announced it will “do everything it can” to support borrowers who want to sign up to Homes for Ukraine. And while many mortgage lenders have yet to announce their position on this, experts aren’t anticipating there will be problems. David Hollingworth from L&C Mortgages says: “I’d expect that lenders will want to be flexible and helpful in these circumstances”. But if your lender hasn’t announced its policy by the time you want to sign up or if you’re worried it’s a good idea to speak to your lender.
And it’s not yet clear if you will need to tell your home insurer. It’s always a good idea to speak to your insurer if you’re not sure.
If I can’t host a Ukrainian family how else can I help?
If you want to support people in Ukraine but aren’t in a position to join the scheme you can donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal. The UK Government is matching pound-for-pound up to £25 million of public donations.